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THE 
DISENTANGLERS 



By ANDREW LANG 




LONGMANS. GREEN, AND CO. 

91 Am 9} HFTH AVENUE, NEW YORK 

LONDON AND BOMBAY 

1902 






rHARVAPOX 

UNIVERilTYl 

I LIBRAR;r I 



CofyrigJktf igoi 

Br Andrew Lang 

Cofyrigktf igoi mud igoa 

Br Longmans, Green, 9 Co. 



All rights rttfrvtd 

First Edition, October, 1902 
Reprinted, November, 190s 



John Wiuon and Son, Cambudgx, U. S. A« 



TO 

HERBERT HILES, Esq, 

OF LIFE AND CHARACTER 
AXS DEDICATED 




lit you to (io sDiiR'ihiiiy [,ir nio,' said Miss Blossom 



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THE 
DISENTANGLERS 



i|y ANDREW LANG 




LONGMANS, GREEN, AND CO. 

91 AND 93 FIFTH AVENUE, NEW YORK 

LONDON AND BOUBAY 

1902 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 



' I want you to do something for me,' said Miss 

Blossom Frontispiece 

Miss Maskelyne did a Trick Facing page 23 

... A man disappearing into a Hansom . . » i* 63 

The Ladies overhear the Curates .... ,, »» So 

The Earl is charmed with Miss Willoughby . ,, ?« 1 19 

The Death of the Mylodon „ „ 229 

' Perhaps, Dr. Melville ... if I at once hold 

my hands up* „ „ 312 



THE DISENTANGLERS 

I 

THE GREAT IDEA 

THE scene was a dusky shabby little room in 
Ryder Street. To such caves many repair 
whose days are passed, and whose food is consumed, 
in the clubs of the adjacent thoroughfare of co- 
operative palaces, Pall Mall. The furniture was 
battered and dingy; the sofa on which Logan 
sprawled had a certain historic interest: it was 
covered with cloth of horsehair, now seldom found 
by the amateur. A bookcase with glass doors held 
a crowd of books to which the amateur would at 
once have flown. They were in ' boards ' of faded 
blue, and the paper labels bore alluring names: 
they were all First Editions of the most desirable 
kind. The bottles in the liqueur case were an- 
tique; a coat of arms, not undistinguished, was in 
relief on the silver stoppers. But the liquors in 
the flasks were humble and conventional. Merton, 
the tenant of the rooms, was in a Zingari cricketing 
coat; he occupied the arm-chair, while Logan, in 
evening dress, maintained a difficult equilibrium 



2 THE DISENTANGLERS 

on the slippery sofa. Both men were of an age 
between twenty-five and twenty-nine, both were 
pleasant to the eye. Merton was, if anything, 
under the middle height: fair, slim, and active. 
As a freshman he had coxed his College Eight, 
later he rowed Bow in that vessel. He had won 
the Hurdles, but been beaten by his Cambridge 
opponent; he had taken a fair second in Greats, 
was believed to have been * runner up ' for the 
Newdigate prize poem, and might have won other 
laurels, but that he was found to do the female 
parts very fairly in the dramatic performances of 
the University, a thing irreconcilable with study. 
His father was a rural dean. Merton 's most obvious 
vice was a thirst for general information. ' I know 
it is awfully bad form to know anything,' he had 
been heard to say, ' but everyone has his failings, 
and mine is occasionally useful.' 

Logan was tall, dark, athletic and indolent. He 
was, in a way, the last of an historic Scottish 
family, and rather fond of discoursing on the ances- 
tral traditions. But any satisfaction that he de- 
rived from them was, so far, all that his birth had 
won for him. His little patrimony had taken to 
itself wings. Merton was in no better case. Both, 
as they sat together, were gloomily discussing their 
prospects. 

In the penumbra of smoke, and the malignant 
light of an ill trimmed lamp, the Great Idea was to 
be evolved. What consequences hung on the Great 
Idea! The peace of families insured, at a trifling 
premium. Innocence rescued. The defeat of the 



THE GREAT IDEA 3 

subtlest criminal designers: undreamed of benefits 
to natural science! But I anticipate. We return 
to the conversation in the Ryder Street den. 

'It is a case of emigration or the workhouse/ 
said Logan. 

' Emigration I What can you or I do in the Colo- 
nies? They provide even their own ushers. My 
only available assets, a little Greek and less Latin, 
are drugs in the . Melbourne market, ' answered Mer- 
ton; * they breed their own dominies. Protection ! ' 

* In America they might pay for lessons in the 
English accent . . .' said Logan. 

* But not, ' said Merton, ' in the Scotch, which 
is yours; oh distant cousin of a marquis! Conse- 
quently by rich American lady pupils " you are not 
one to be desired." ' 

* Tommy, you are impertinent, ' said Logan. 
' Oh, hang it, where is there an opening, a demand, 
for the broken, the stoney broke? A man cannot 
live by casual paragraphs alone.' 

'And these generally reckoned ''too high-toned 
for our readers," ' said Merton. 

* If I could get the secretaryship of a golf club ! ' 
Logan sighed. 

' If you could get the Chancellorship of the 
Exchequer! I reckon that there are two million 
applicants for secretaryships of golf clubs.' 

' Or a land agency, ' Logan murmured. 

* Oh, be practical ! ' cried Merton. * Be inven- 
tive! Be modem! Be up to date! Think of 
something new/ Think of a felt want, as the 
Covenanting divine calls it: a real public need. 



4 THE DISENTANGLERS 

hitherto but dimly present, and quite a demand 
without a supply.' 

'But that means thousands in advertisements/ 
said Logan, ' even if we ran a hair-restorer. The 
ground bait is too expensive. I say, I once knew 
a fellow who ground-baited for salmon with potted 
shrimps. ' 

' Make a paragraph on him then/ said Merton. 

* But results proved that there was no felt want 
of potted shrimps — or not of a fly to follow.' 

' Your collaboration in the search, the hunt for 
money, the quest, consists merely in irrelevan- 
cies and objections,' growled Merton, lighting a 
cigarette. 

' Lucky devil, Peter Nevison. Meets an heiress 
on a Channel boat, with 4,cxx>/. a year; and there 
he is.' Logan basked in the reflected sunshine. 

* Cut by her people, though — and other people. 
I could not have faced the row with her people,' 
said Merton musingly. 

* I don't wonder they moved heaven and earth, 
and her uncle, the bishop, to stop it. Not eligible, 
Peter was not, however you took him,' Logan re- 
flected. ' Took too much of this, ' he pointed to the 
heraldic flask. 

' Well, sAe took him. It is not much that 
parents, still less guardians, can do now, when a 
girl's mind is made up.' 

' The emancipation of woman is the opportunity 
of the indigent male stniggler. Women have their 
way,' Logan reflected. 

' And the youth of the modern aged is the oppor- 



THE GREAT IDEA S 

tunity of our sisters, the girls "on the make," ' said 
Merton. ' What a lot of old men of title are marry- 
ing young women as hard up as we are ! ' 

' And then, ' said Logan, ' the offspring of the 
deceased marchionesses make a fuss. In fact mar- 
riage is always the signal for a family row.' 

* It is the infernal family row that I never could 
face. I had a chance ' 

Merton seemed likely to drop into autobiography. 
' I know,' said Logan admonishingly. 
' Well, hanged if I could take it, and she — she 
could not stand it either, and both of us * 

* Do not be elegiac, ' interrupted Logan. ' I 
know. Still, I am rather sorry for people's people. 
The unruly affections simply poison the lives of 
parents and guardians, aye, and of the children too. 
The aged are now so hasty and imprudent. What 
would not Tala have given to prevent his Grace 
from marrying Mrs. Tankerville ? ' 

Merton leapt to his feet and smote his brow. 

'Wait, don't speak to me — a great thought 
flushes all my brain. Hush I I have it,' and he 
sat down again, pouring seltzer water into a half 
empty glass. 

' Have what ? ' asked Logan. 

' The Felt Want. But the accomplices ? ' 

' But the advertisements ! ' suggested Logan. 

' A few pounds will cover them. I can sell my 
books,' Merton sighed. 

' A lot of advertising your first editions will pay 
for. Why, even to launch a hair-restorer takes ' 

' Oh, but, * Merton broke in, ' t/iis want is so 



6 THE DISENTANGLERS 

widely felt, acutely felt too: hair is not in it. 
But where are the accomplices?' 

' If it is gentleman burglars I am not concerned. 
No Raffles for me ! If it is venal physicians to kill 
off rich relations, the lives of the Logans are sacred 
to me. ' 

' Bosh! ' said Merton, ' I want "lady friends," as 
Tennyson says: nice girls, well born, well bred, 
trying to support themselves.' 

* What do you want them for .^ To support them ? ' 

' I want them as accomplices, ' said Merton. ' As 
collaborators. ' 

'Blackmail?' asked Logan. 'Has it come to 
this? I draw the line at blackmail. Besides, they 
would starve first, good girls would ; or marry Lord 
Methusalem, or a beastly South African richard,' 

' Robert Logan of Restalrig, that should be ' — 
Merton spoke impressively — ' you know me to be 
incapable of practices, however lucrative, which 
involve taint of crime. I do not prey upon the 
society which I propose to benefit. But where are 
the girls ? ' 

' Where are they not ? * Logan asked. ' Daw- 
dling, as jesters, from country house to country 
house. In the British Museum, verifying refer- 
ences for literary gents, if they can get references 
to verify. Asking leave to describe their friends' 
parties in The Leidy's News. Trying for places 
as golfing governesses, or bridge governesses, or 
gymnastic mistresses at girls' schools, or lady 
laundresses, or typewriters, or lady teachers of 
cookery, or pegs to hang costumes on at dress- 



THE GREAT IDEA 7 

makers'. The most beautiful girl I ever saw was 
doing that once; I raet her when I was shopping 
with my aunt who left her money to the Armenians. ' 
'You kept up her acquaintance? The girl's, I 
mean/ Merton asked. 

* We have occasionally met. In fact ' 

* Yes, I know, as you said lately, ' Merton re- 
marked. ' That's one, anyhow, and there is Mary 
Willoughby, who got a second in history when I 
was up. She would do. Better business for her 
than the British Museum. I know three or four. ' 

* I know five or six. But what for } ' Logan 
insisted. 

' To help us in supplying the widely felt want, 
which is my discovery,' said Merton. 

'And that is ?' 

' Disentanglers — of both sexes. A large and 
varied staff, calculated to meet every requirement 
and cope with every circumstance. ' Merton quoted 
an unwritten prospectus. 

* I don't follow. What the deuce is your felt 
want } ' 

' What we were talking about. ' 
' Ground bait for salmon ? ' Logan reverted to his 
idea. 

* No. Family rows about marriages. Nasty let- 
ters. Refusals to recognise the choice of a son, 
a daughter, or a widowed but youthful old parent, 
among the upper classes. Harsh words. Refu- 
sals to allow meetings or correspondence. Broken 
hearts. Improvident marriages. Preaching down 
a daughter's heart, or an aged parent's heart, or a 



8 THE DISENTANGLERS 

nephew's, or a niece's, or a ward's, or anybody's 
heart. Peace restored to the household. Intended 
marriage off, and nobody a penny the worse, 
unless ' 

' Unless what ? ' said Logan. 

'Practical difficulties,' said Merton, 'will occur 
in every enterprise. But they won't be to our dis- 
advantage, the reverse — if they don't happen too 
often. And we can guard against that by a scien- 
tific process. ' 

' Now will you explain,' Logan asked, ' or shall I 
pour this whisky and water down the back of your 
neck 7 ' 

He rose to his feet, menace in his eye. 

* Bear fighting barred ! We are no longer boys. 
We are men — broken men. Sit down, don't play 
the bear,' said Merton. 

* Well, explain, or I fire ! ' 

' Don't you see.' The problem for the family, for 
hundreds of families, is to get the undesirable mar- 
riage off without the usual row. Very few people 
really like a row. Daughter becomes anaemic; 
foreign cures are expensive and no good. Son goes 
to the Devil or the Cape. Aged and opulent, but 
amorous, parent leaves everything he can scrape 
together to disapproved of new wife. Relations 
cut each other all round. Not many people really 
enjoy that kind of thing. They want a pacific 
solution — marriage ofiF, no remonstrances.' 

' And how are you going to do it } ' 

*Why,' said Merton, 'by a scientific and thor- 
oughly organised system of disengaging or disen- 



THE GREAT IDEA 9 

tangling. We enlist a lot of girls and fellows like 
ourselves, beautiful, attractive, young, or not so 
young, well connected, intellectual, athletic, and of 
all sorts of types, but all brokSf all without visible 
means of subsistence. They are people welcome 
in country houses, but travelling third class, and 
devilishly perplexed about how to tip the servants, 
how to pay if they lose at bridge, and so forth. 
We enlist them, we send them out on demand, care- 
fully selecting our agents to meet the circumstances 
in each case. They go down and disentangle the 
amorous by — well, by entangling them. The 
lovers are off with the old love, the love which 
causes all the worry, without being on with the new 
love — our agent. The thing quietly fizzles out' 

' Quietly 1* Logan snorted. *I like "quietly." 
They would be on with the new love. Don't you 
see, you born gomeral, that the person, man or 
woman, who deserts the inconvenient A. — I put an 
A. B. case — falls in love with your agent B., and 
your B. is, by the nature of the thing, more ineli- 
gible than A. — too poor. A babe could see that. 
You disappoint me, Merton. ' 

'You state,' said Merton, 'one of the practical 
difHculties which I foresaw. Not that it does not 
suit us very well. Our comrade and friend, man 
or woman, gets a chance of a good marriage, and, 
Logan, there is no better thing. But parents and 
guardians would not stand much of that : of people 
marrying our agents. ' 

* Of course they would n't. Your idea is crazy.' 

' Wait a moment, ' said Merton. ' The resources 



xo THE DISENTANGLERS 

of science are not yet exhausted. You have heard 
of the epoch-making discovery of Jenner, and its 
beneficent results in checking the ravages of small- 
pox, that scourge of the human race? ' 

* Oh don't talk like a printed book/ Logan remon- 
strated. ' Everybody has heard of vaccination/ 

'And you are aware that similar prophylactic 
measures have been adopted, with more or less of 
success, in the case of other diseases ? ' 

* I am aware,' said Logan, ' that you are in danger 
of personal suffering at my hands, as I already warned 
you/ 

'What is love but a disease?' Merton asked 
dreamily. ' A French savant, Monsieur Janet, says 
that nobody ever falls in love except when he is a 
little bit ofT colour: I forget the French equivalent/ 

' I am coming for you,' Logan arose in wrath. 

' Sit down. Well, your objection (which it did 
not need the eyes of an Argus to discover) is that 
the patients, the lovers young, whose loves are dis- 
approved of by the family, will fall in love with our 
agents, insist on marrying themt and so the last 
state of these afflicted parents — or children — will 
be worse than the first. Is that your objection?' 

' Of course it is ; and crushing at that,' Logan 
replied. 

'Then science suggests prophylactic measures: 
something akin to vaccination,' Merton explained. 
« The agents must be warranted " immune." Nice 
new word I ' 

'How?' 

* The object,' Merton answered, ' is to make it 



THE GREAT IDEA ii 

impossible, or highly improbable, that our agents, 
after disentangling the affections of the patients, cur- 
ing them of one attack, will accept their addresses, 
offered in a second fit of the fever. In brief, the 
agents must not marry the patients, or not often.' 

' But how can you prevent them if they want to 
do it?' 

' By a process akin, in the emotional region of our 
strangely blended nature, to inoculation.' 

* Hanged if I understand you. You keep on re- 
peating yourself. You dodder ! ' 

' Our agents must have got the disease already, the 
pretty fever; and be safe against infection. There 
must be on the side of the agent a prior attachment. 
Now, don't interrupt, there always is a prior attach- 
ment. You are in love, I am in love, he, she, and 
they, all of the broken brigade, are in love ; all the 
more because they have not a chance. " Cursed be 
the social wants that sin against the strength of 
youth." So, you see, our agents will be quite safe 
not to crown the flame of the patients, not to accept 
them, if they do propose, or expect a proposal. 
" Every security from infection guaranteed." There 
is the felt want. Here is the remedy ; not warranted 
absolutely painless, but salutary, and tending to the 
amelioration of the species. So we have only to 
enlist the agents, and send a few advertisements to 
the papers. My first editions must go. Farewell 
Shelley, Tennyson, Keats, uncut Waverleys, Byron, 
The Waltz, early Kiplings (at a vast reduction on 
account of the overflooded state of the market). 
Farewell Kilmarnock edition of Burns, and Colonel 



12 THE DISENTANGLERS 

Lovelace, his Liuasta, and Tamerlane by Mr. Poe, 
and the rest. The money must be raised.' Merton 
looked resigned. 

* I have nothing to sell/ said Logan, ' but an entire 
set of clubs by Philp. Guaranteed unique, and in 
exquisite condition/ 

' You must part with them,' said Merton. * We are 
like Palissy the potter, feeding his furnace with the 
drawing-room furniture.' 

'But how about the recruiting?' Logan asked. 
* It 's like one of these novels where you begin by 
collecting desperados from all quarters, and then the 
shooting commences.' 

* Well, we need not ransack the Colonies,' Merton 
replied. * Patronise British industries. We know 
some fellows already and some young women.' 

* I say,' Logan interrupted, ' what a dab at dis- 
entangling Lumley would have been if he had not 
got that Professorship of Toxicology at Edinburgh, 
and been able to marry Miss Wingan at last ! ' 

' Yes, and Miss Wingan would have been useful. 
What a lively girl, ready for everything,' Merton 
replied. 

' But these we can still get at,' Logan asked : ' how 
are you to be sure that they are — vaccinated? ' 

*The inquiry is delicate,' Merton admitted, 'but 
the fact may be almost taken for granted. We must 
give a dinner (a preliminary expense) to promising 
collaborators, and champagne is a great promoter of 
success in delicate inquiries. In vino Veritas.* 

* I don't know if there is money in it, but there is a 
kind of larkiness,' Logan admitted. 



THE GREAT IDEA 13 

* Yes, I think there will be larks.' 

'About the dinner? We are not to have Johnnies 
disguised as hansom cabbies driving about, and pick- 
ing up men and women that look the right sort, in 
the streets, and compelling them to come in? ' 

' Oh no, that expense we can cut. It would not 
do with the women, obviously: heavens, what queer 
fishes that net would catch ! The flag of the Disen- 
tanglers shall never be stained by — anything. You 
know some likely agents : I know some likely agents. 
They will suggest others, as our field of usefulness 
widens. Of course there is the oath of secrecy : we 
shall administer that after dinner to each guest 
apart.' 

'Jolly difficult for those that are mixed up with 
the press to keep an oath of secrecy ! ' Logan spoke 
as a press man. 

'We shall only have to do with gentlemen and 
ladies. The oath is not going to sanction itself with 
religious terrors. Good form — we shall appeal to 
a " sense of form " — now so widely diffused by 
University Extension Lectures on the Beautiful, the 
Fitting, the ' 

' Oh shut up ! ' cried Logan. ' You always haver 
after midnight. For, look here, here is an objection ; 
this precious plan of yours, parents and others could 
work it for themselves. I dare say they do. When 
they see the affections of a son, or a daughter, or a 
bereaved father beginning to stray towards A., they 
probably invite B. to come and stay and act as a 
lightning conductor. They don't need us.' 

' Ob, don't they ? They seldom have an eligible 



14 THE DISENTANGLERS 

and satisfactory lightning conductor at hand, some- 
body to whom they can trust their dear one. Or, if 
they have, the dear one has already been bored with 
the intended lightning conductor (who is old, or 
plain, or stupid, or familiar, at best), and they won't 
look at him or her. Now our Disentanglers are not 
going to be plain, or dull, or old, or stale, or com- 
monplace — we '11 take care of that. My dear fellow, 
don't you know how dismal the parti selected for a 
man or girl invariably is? Now we provide a differ- 
ent and superior article, a fresh article too, not a 
familiar bore or a neighbour.' 

^ Well, there is a good deal in that, as you say,' 
Logan admitted. ' But decent people will think the 
whole speculation shady. How are you to get round 
that? There is something you have forgotten.' 

* What? ' Merton asked. 

' Why it stares you in the face. References. Un- 
exceptionable references; people will expect them 
all round.' 

* Please don't say " unexceptionable " ; say " refer- 
ences beyond the reach of cavil." ' Merton was a 
purist. ' It costs more in advertisements, but vay 
phrase at once enlists the sympathy of every liberal 
and elegant mind. But as to references (and I am 
glad that you have some common sense, Logan), 
there is, let me see, there is the Dowager.' 

* The divine Althaea — Marchioness of Bowton? ' 

* The same,' said Merton. ' The oldest woman, 
and the most recklessly up-to-date in London. She 
has seen bien tTautres^ and wants to see more/ 

' She will do ; and my aunt,' Logan said. 



THE GREAT IDEA 15 

* Not, oh, of course not, the one who left her 
money to the Armenians?' Merton asked. 

' No, another. And there 's old Lochmaben^s 
young wife, my cousin, widely removed, by marriage. 
She is American, you know, and perhaps you know 
her book, Social Experiments f ' 

* Yes, it is not half bad,' Merton conceded, ' and 
her heart will be in what I fear she will call '' the new 
departure." And she is pretty, and highly respected 
in the parish.' 

* And there *s my aunt I spoke of, or great aunt, 
Miss Nicky Maxwell. The best old thing : a beauti- 
ful monument of old gentility, and she would give 
her left hand to help any one of the clan.* 

* She will do. And there 's Mrs. Brown-Smith, 
Lord Yarrow's daughter, who married the patent 
soap man. E//e est capable de tout, A real good 
woman, but full of her fun.' 

' That will do for the lady patronesses. We must 
secure them at once.' 

'But won't the clients blab? ' Logan suggested. 

'They can't,' Merton said. 'They would be 
laughed at consumedly. It will be their interest to 
hold their tongues.' 

'Well, let us hope that they will see it in that 
light.' Logan was not too sanguine. 

Merton had a better opinion of his enterprise. 

' People, if they come to us at all for assistance in 
these very delicate and intimate affairs, will have too 
much to lose by talking about them. They may not 
come, we can only try, but if they come they 
will be silent as the grave usually is.' 



1 6 THE DISENTANGLERS 

* Well, it is late, and the whisky is low/ said Logan 
in mournful tones. 'May the morrow's reflections 
justify the inspiration of — the whisky. Good 
night ! ' 

' Good night/ said Merton absently. 

He sat down when Logan had gone, and wrote a 
few notes on large sheets of paper. He was elabo- 
rating the scheme. ' If collaboration consists in mak- 
ing objections, as the French novelist said, Logan 
is a rare collaborator,' Merton muttered as he turned 
out the pallid lamp and went to bed. 

Next morning, before dressing, he revolved the 
scheme. It bore the change of light and survived 
the inspiration of alcohol. Logan looked in after 
breakfast. He had no new objections. They pro- 
ceeded to action. 



II 

FROM THE HIGHWAYS AND HEDGES 

THE first Step towards Merton's scheme was 
taken at once. The lady patronesses were 
approached. The divine Althaea instantly came in. 
She had enjoyed few things more since the Duchess 
of Richmond's ball on the eve of Waterloo. Miss 
Nicky Maxwell at first professed a desire to open 
her coffers, ' only anticipating/ she said, ' an event ' 
— which Logan declined in any sense to antici- 
pate. Lady Lochmaben said that they would have 
a lovely time as experimental students of society. 
Mrs. Brown-Smith instantly offered her own services 
as a Disentangler, her lord being then absent in 
America studying the negro market for detergents. 

* I think/ she said, ' he expects Brown-Smith's brand 
to make an Ethiopian change his skin, and then means 
to exhibit him as an advertisement.' 

' And settle the negro question by making them all 
white men/ said Logan, as he gracefully declined the 
generous but compromising proposal of the lady. 
* Yet, after all/ thought he, Ms she not right? The 
prophylactic precautions would certainly be increased, 
morally speaking, if the Disentanglers were married.' 
But while he pigeon-holed this idea for future refer- 



1 8 THE DISENTANGLERS 

ence, at the moment he could not see his way to 
accepting Mrs. Brown-Smith's spirited idea. She 
reluctantly acquiesced in his view of the case, but, 
like the other dames, promised to guarantee, if 
applied to, the absolute respectability of the enter- 
prise. The usual vows of secrecy were made, and 
(what borders on the supernatural) they were 
kept. 

Merton's first editions went to Sotheby's, * Property 
of a gentleman who is changing his objects of collec- 
tion.' A Russian archduke bought Logan's unique 
set of golf clubs by Philp. Funds accrued from 
other sources. Logan had a friend, dearer friend 
had no man, one Trevor, a pleasant bachelor whose 
sister kept house for him. His purse, or rather his 
cheque book, gaped with desire to be at Logan's 
service, but had gaped in vain. Finding Logan 
grinning one day over the advertisement columns 
of a paper at the club, his prophetic soul discerned 
a good thing, and he wormed it out * in dern privacy.' 
He slapped his manly thigh and insisted on being in 
it — as a capitalist. The other stoutly resisted, but 
was overcome. 

' You need an office, you need retaining fees, you 
need outfits for the accomplices, and it is a legitimate 
investment. I '11 take interest and risks,' said Trevor. 

So the money was found. 

The inaugural dinner, for the engaging of accom- 
plices, was given in a private room of a restaurant in 
Pall Mall. 

The dinner was gay, but a little pathetic. Neatness, 
rather than the gloss of novelty (though other gloss 



FROM THE HIGHWAYS AND HEDGES 19 

there was), characterised the garments of the men. 
The toilettes of the women were modest ; that amount 
of praise (and it is a good deal) they deserved. A 
young lady, Miss Maskelyne, an amber-hued beauty, 
who practically lived as a female jester at the houses 
of the great, shone resplendent, indeed, but magnifi- 
cence of apparel was demanded by her profession. 

* I am so tired of it,' she said to Merton. * Fancy 
being more and more anxious for country house invita- 
tions. Fancy an artist's feelings, when she knows she 
has not been a success. And then when the woman 
of the house detests you ! She often does. And when 
they ask you to give your imitation of So-and-so, and 
forget that his niece is in the room ! Do you know 
what they would have called people like me a hun- 
dred years ago? Toad-eaters! There is one of us 
in an old novel I read a bit of once. She goes about, 
an old maid, to houses. Once she arrived in a snow 
storm and a hearse. Am I to come to that? I keep 
learning new drawing-room tricks. And when you 
fall ill, as I did at Eckford, and you can't leave, and 
you think they are tired to death of you ! Oh, it is 
I who am tired, and time passes, and one grows old. 
I am a hag ! ' 

Merton said ' what he ought to have said,' and 
what, indeed, was true. He was afraid she would 
tell him what she owed her dressmakers. Therefore 
he steered the talk round to sport, then to the High- 
lands, then to Knoydart, then to Alastair Macdonald 
of Craigiecorrichan, and then Merton knew, by a 
tone in the voice, a drop of the eyelashes, that Miss 
Maskelyne was — vaccinated. Prophylactic meas- 



20 THE DISENTANGLERS 

ures had been taken : this agent ran no risk of infec- 
tion. There was Alastair. 

Merton turned to Miss Willoughby, on his left. 
She was tall, dark, handsome, but a little faded, and 
not plump: few of the faces round the table were 
plump and well liking. Miss Willoughby, in fact, 
dwelt in one room, in Bloomsbury, and dined on 
cocoa and bread and butter. These were for her 
the rewards of the Higher Education. She lived 
by copying crabbed manuscripts. 

*Do you ever go up to Oxford now?* said Merton. 

'Not often. Sometimes a St. Ursula girl gets a 
room in the town for me. I have coached two or 
three of them at little reading parties. It gets one 
out of town in autumn: Bloomsbury in August is 
not very fresh. And at Oxford one can " tout," or 
'< cadge," for a little work. But there are so many 
of us.' 

' What are you busy with just now? ' 

* Vatican transcripts at the Record Office/ 
' Any exciting secrets? ' 

* Oh no, only how much the priests here paid to 
Rome for their promotions. Secrets then perhaps : 
not thrilling now.' 

' No schemes to poison people? ' 

' Not yet : no plots for novels, and oh, such long- 
winded pontifical Latin, and such awful crabbed 
hands.' 

' It does not seem to lead to much ? ' 

' To nothing, in no way. But one is glad to get 
anything.' 

•Jephson, of Lincoln, whom I used to know, is 



FROM THE HIGHWAYS AND HEDGES it 

doing a book on the Knights of St. John in their 
Relations to the Empire/ said Merton. 

'Is he?' said Miss Willoughby, after a scarcely 
distinguishable but embarrassed pause, and she turned 
from Merton to exhibit an interest in the very original 
scheme of mural decoration behind her. 

' It is quite a new subject to most people/ said 
Merton, and he mentally ticked off Miss Willoughby 
as safe, for Jephson, whom he had heard that she 
liked, was a very poor man, living on his fellowship 
and coaching. He was sorry : he had never liked or 
trusted Jephson. 

' It is a subject sure to create a sensation, is n't it? ' 
asked Miss Willoughby, a little paler than before. 

' It might get a man a professorship,' said Merton. 

' There are so many of us, of them, I mean,' said 
Miss Willoughby, and Merton gave a small sigh. 
* Not much larkiness here,' he thought, and asked a 
transient waiter for champagne. 

Miss Willoughby drank a little of the wine: the 
colour came into her face. 

'By Jove, she's awfully handsome,' thought 
Merton. 

' It was very kind of you to ask me to this festival,' 
said the girl. ' Why have you asked us, me at least? ' 

'Perhaps for many besides the obvious reason,' 
said Merton. ' You may be told later.' 

' Then there is a reason in addition to that which 
most people don't find obvious? Have you come 
into a fortune ? ' 

* Ho, but I am coming. My ship is on the sea 
and my boat is on the shore.' 



ad THE DISENTANGLERS 

* I see faces that I know. There is that tall hand- 
some girl, Miss Markham, with real gold hair, next 
Mr. Logan. We used to call her the Venus of Milo, 
or Milo for short, at St. Ursula's. She has mantles 
and things tried on her at Madame Claudine's, and 
stumpy purchasers argue from the effect (neglecting 
the cause) that the things will suit tkem. Her peo- 
ple were ruined by Australian gold mines. And 
^here is Miss Martin, who does stories for the penny 
story papers at a shilling the thousand words. The 
fathers have backed horses, and the children's teeth 
are set on edge. Is it a Neo-Christian dinner? We 
are all so poor. You have sought us in the highways 
and hedges.' 

' Where the wild roses grow,' said Merton. 

' I don't know many of the men, though I see faces 
that one used to see in the High. There is Mr. 
Yorker, the athletic man. What is he doing now?' 

* He is sub-vice-secretary of a cricket club. His 
income depends on his bat and his curl from leg. 
But he has a rich aunt.' 

* Cricket does not lead to much, any more than my 
ability to read the worst handwritings of the darkest 
ages. Who is the man that the beautiful lady oppo- 
site is making laugh so?' asked Miss Willoughby, 
without moving her lips. 

Merton wrote ' Bulstrode of Trinity ' on th^ back 
of the menu. 

* What does A^ do ? ' 

'Nothing,' said Merton in a low voice. 'Been 
alligator farming, or ostrich farming, or ranching, and 
come back shorn ; they all come back. He wants to 



FROM THE HIGHWAYS AND HEDGES 23 

be an ecclesiastical " chucker out/' and cope with Mr. 
Kensitt and Co. New profession.' 

* He ought not to be here. He can ride and shoot.' 
'He is the only son of his mother and she is a 

widow.' 

* He ought to go out. My only brother is out. I 
wish I were a man. I hate dawdlers.' She looked 
at him: her eyes were large and grey under black 
lashes, they were dark and louring. 

* Have you, by any chance, a spark of the devil in 
you ? ' asked Merton, taking a social header. 

' I have been told so, and sometimes thought so,' 
said Miss Willoughby. ' Perhaps this one will go out 
by fasting if not by prayer. Yes, I kave a spark of 
the Accuser of the Brethren.' 

* Tant mieux,' thought Merton. 

All the people were talking and laughing now. 
Miss Maskelyne told a story to the table. She did 
a trick with a wine glass, forks, and a cork. Logan 
interviewed Miss Martin, who wrote tales for the 
penny fiction people, on her methods. Had she a 
moral aim, a purpose? Did she create her characters 
first, and let them evolve their fortunes, or did she 
invent a plot, and make her characters fit in? 

Miss Martin said she began with a situation: 'I 
wish I could get one somewhere as secretary to a 
man of letters.' 

' They can't afford secretaries,' said Logan. ' Be- 
sides they are family men, married men, and so ' 

•And so what?' 

* Go look in any glass, and say,' said Logan, laugh- 
ing* ' But how do you begin with a situation? ' 



24 THE DISENTANGLERS 

* Oh, anyhow. A lot of men in a darkened room. 
Pitch dark; 

' A stance ? ' 

* No, a conspiracy. They are in the dark that when 
arrested they may swear they never saw each other.' 

* They could swear that anyhow.' 

* Conspirators have consciences. Then there comes 
a red light shining between the door and the floor. 
Then the door breaks down under a hammer, the 
light floods the room. There is a man in it whom 
the others never saw enter.' 

' How did he get in? ' 

' He was there before they came. Then the fight- 
ing begins. At the end of it where is the man ? ' 
' Well, where is he? What was he up to? ' 

* I don't know yet,' said Miss Martin, ' it just comes 
as I go on. It has just got to come. It is a fourteen 
hours a day business. All writing. I crib things 
from the French. Not whole stories. I take the 
opening situation ; say the two men in a boat on the 
river who hook up a sack. I don't read the rest of 
the Frenchman, I work on from the sack, and guess 
what was in it.' 

' What was in the sack?' 

' In the Sack I A name for a story ! Anything, 
from the corpse of a freak (good idea, corpse of a 
freak with no arms and legs, or with too many) to a 
model of a submarine ship, or political papers. But 
I am tired of corpses. They pervade my works. 
They give "a bouquet^ a fragrance," as Mr. Talbot 
Twysden said about his cheap claret.' 

' You read the old Masters ? ' 



FROM THE HIGHWAYS AND HEDGES 25 

' The obsolete Thackeray? Yes, I know him pretty 
well.' 

•What are you publishing just now?' 

' This to an author? Don't you know? ' 

' I blush/ said Logan. 

' Unseen/ said Miss Martin, scrutinising him closely. 

' Well, you do not read the serials to which I con- 
tribute,' she went on. 'I have two or three things 
running. There is The Judge's Secret* 

•What was that?' 

• He did it himself.' 
•Did what?' 

• Killed the bishop. He is not a very plausible 
judge in English: in French he would be all right, a 
juge d* instruction y the man who cross-examines the 

prisoners in private, you know.' 

• Judges don't do that in England,' said Logan. 

• No, but this case is an exception. The judge was 
such a very old friend, a college friend, of the mur- 
dered bishop. So he takes advantage of his official 
position, and steals into the cell of the accused. My 
public does not know any better, and, of course, I 
have no reviewers. I never come out in a book.' 

• And why did the judge assassinate the prelate ? ' 

• The prelate knew too much about the judge, who 
sat in the Court of Probate and Divorce.' 

• Satan reproving sin? ' asked Logan. 

' Yes, exactly ; and the bishop being interested in 

the case ' 

'No scandal about Mrs. Proudie?' 

• No, not that exactly, still, you see the motive? ' 

• I do/ said Logan. • And the conclusion? ' 



26 THE DISENTANGLERS 

* The bishop was not really dead at all. It takes 
some time to explain. The corpus delicti — you see 
I know my subject — was somebody else. And the 
bishop was alive, and secretly watching the judge, 
disguised as Mr. Sherlock Holmes. Oh, I know it is 
too much in Dickens's manner. But my public has 
not read Dickens.' 

' You interest me keenly ' said Logan. 

* I am glad to hear it. And the penny public take 
freely. Our circulation goes up. I asked for a rise 
of three pence on the thousand words.' 

* Now this is what I call literary conversation/ said 
Logan. ' It is like reading The British Weekly Book- 
man, Did you get the threepence? if the inquiry is 
not indelicate.' 

* I got twopence. But, you see, there are so many 
of us.' 

' Tell me more. Are you serialising anything else ? ' 

* Serialising is the right word. I see you know a 
great deal about literature. Yes, I am serialising a 
featured tale.' 

'A featured tale?' 

* You don't know what that is? You do not know 
everything yet ! It is called Myself, ' 

' Why Myself? ' 

* Oh, because the narrator did it — the murder. A 
stranger is found in a wood, hung to a tree. Nobody 
knows who he is. But he and the narrator had 
met in Paraguay. He, the murdered man, came 
home, visited the narrator, and fell in love with the 
beautiful being to whom the narrator was engaged. 
So the narrator lassoed him in a wood.' 



FROM THE HIGHWAYS AND HEDGES 27 

-Why?' 

' Oh, the old stock reason. He knew too much.' 

•What did he know?' 

* Why, that the narrator was living on a treasure 
originally robbed from a church in South America.' 

' But, if it was a treasure, who would care ? ' 

' The girl was a Catholic. And the murdered man 
knew more.' 

' How much more? ' 

' This : to find out about the treasure, the narrator 
had taken priest's orders, and, of course, could not 
marry. And the other man, being in love with the 
girl, threatened to tell, and so the lasso came in 
handy. It is a Protestant story and instructive.' 

'Jolly instructive! But, Miss Martin, you are the 
Guy Boothby of your sex ! ' 

At this supreme tribute the girl blushed like dawn 
upon the hills. 

* My word, she is pretty ! ' thought Logan ; but 
what he said was, *You know Mr. Tierney, your 
neighbour? Out of a job as a composition master. 
Almost reduced to University Extension Lectures on 
the didactic Drama.' 

Tierney was talking eagerly to his neighbour, a 
fascinating lady laundress, la belle blanchisseuse, 
about starch. 

Further off a lady instructress in cookery, Miss 
Frere, was conversing with a tutor of bridge. 

' Tierney,' said Logan, in a pause, ' may I present 
you to Miss Martin?' Then he turned to Miss 
Markham, formerly known at St. Ursula's as Milo. 
She had been a teacher of golf, hockey, cricket, fenc- 



38 THE DISENTANGLERS 

ing, and gymnastics, at a very large school for girls, 
in a very small town. Here she became society to 
such an alarming extent (no party being complete 
without her, while the colonels and majors never left 
her in peace), that her connection with education was 
abruptly terminated. At present raiment was draped 
on her magnificent shoulders at Madame Claudine's. 
Logan, as he had told Merton, ' occasionally met her,' 
and Logan had the strongest reasons for personal 
conviction that she was absolutely proof against in- 
fection, in the trying circumstances to which a Dis- 
entangler is professionally exposed. Indeed she 
alone of the women present knew from Logan the 
purpose of the gathering. 

Cigarettes had replaced the desire of eating and 
drinking. Merton had engaged a withdrawing room, 
where he meant to be closeted with his guests, one 
by one, administer the oath, and prosecute delicate 
inquiries on the important question of immunity 
from infection. But, after a private word or two 
with Logan, he deemed these conspicuous formal- 
ities needless. * We have material enough to begin 
with,' said Logan. ' We knew beforehand that some 
of the men were safe, and certain of the women.' 

There was a balcony. The providence of nature 
had provided a full moon, and a night of balm. The 
imaginative maintained that the scent .of hay was 
breathed, among other odours, over Pall Mall the 
Blest Merton kept straying with one guest or an- 
other into a corner of the balcony. He hinted that 
there was a thing in prospect. Would the guest hold 
himself, or herself, ready at need? Next morning. 



FROM THE HIGHWAYS AND HEDGES 29 

if the promise was given, the guest might awake to 
peace of conscience. The scheme was beneficent, 
and, incidentally, cheerful. 

To some he mentioned retainers; money down, 
to speak grossly. Most accepted on the strength 
of Merton's assurances that their services must al- 
ways be ready. There were difficulties with Miss 
Willoughby and Miss Markham. The former lady 
(who needed it most) flatly refused the arrangement. 
Merton pleaded in vain. Miss Markham, the girl 
known to her contemporaries as Milo, could not 
hazard her present engagement at Madame Claudine's. 
If she was needed by the scheme in the dead season 
she thought that she could be ready for whatever it 
was. 

Nobody was told exactly what the scheme was. It 
was only made clear that nobody was to be employed 
without the full and exhaustive knowledge of the 
employers, for whom Merton and Logan were merely 
agents. If in doubt, the agents might apply for 
counsel to the lady patronesses, whose very names 
tranquilised the most anxious inquirers. The oath 
was commuted for a promise, on honour, of secrecy. 
And, indeed, little if anything was told that could be 
r^ealed. The thing was not political: spies on 
Russia or France were not being recruited. That 
was made perfectly clear. Anybody might withdraw, 
if the prospect, when beheld nearer, seemed undesir- 
able, A mystified but rather merry gathering walked 
away to remote lodgings. Miss Maskelyne alone 
patronising a hansom. 

On the day after the dinner Logan and Merton 



30 THE DISENTANGLERS 

reviewed the event and its promise, taking Trevor 
into their counsels. They were not ill satisfied with 
the potential recruits. 

* There was one jolly little thing in white/ said 
Trevor. * So pretty and flowering ! " Cherries ripe 
themselves do cry/' a line in an old song, that 's what 
her face reminded me of. Who was she ? ' 

* She came with Miss Martin, the penny novelist/ 
said Logan. ' She is stopping with hen A country 
parson's daughter, come up to town to try to live by 
typewriting.' 

' She will be of no use to us/ said Merton. * If 
ever a young woman looked fancy-free it is that girl. 
What did you say her name is, Logan ? ' 

* I did not say, but, though you won't believe it, 
her name is Miss Blossom, Miss Florry Blossom. Her 
godfathers and godmothers must bear the burden of 
her appropriate Christian name ; the other, the sur- 
name, is a coincidence — designed or not' 

'Well, she is not suitable,' said Merton sternly. 
' Misplaced affections she might distract, but then, 
after she had distracted them, she might reciprocate 
them. As a conscientious manager I cannot recom- 
mend her to clients.' 

* But,' said Trevor, * she may be useful for all that, 
as well as decidedly ornamental. Merton, you '11 
want a typewriter for your business correspondence, 
and Miss Blossom typewrites : it is her profession.' 

' Well,' said Merton, * I am not afraid. I do not 
care too much for " that garden in her face," for your 
cherry-ripe sort of young person. If a typewriter is 
necessary I can bear with her as well as another.' 



FROM THE HIGHWAYS AND HEDGES 31 

^I admire your courage and resignation/ said 
Trevor, *so now let us go and take rooms for the 
Society.' 

They found rooms, lordly rooms, which Trevor 
furnished in a stately manner, hanging a selection of 
his mezzotints on the walls — ladies of old years, 
after Romney, Reynolds, Hoppner, and the rest. A 
sober opulence and comfort characterised the cham- 
bers; a well-selected set of books in a Sheraton 
bookcase was intended to beguile the tedium of wait- 
ing clients. The typewriter (Miss Blossom accepted 
the situation) occupied an inner chamber, opening 
out of that which was to be sacred to consultations. 

The firm traded under the title of Messrs. Gray 
and Graham. Their advertisement — in all the news- 
papers — addressed itself 'To Parents, Guardians, 
Children and others.' It set forth the sorrows and 
anxieties which beset families in the matter of unde- 
sirable matrimonial engagements and entanglements. 
The advertisers proposed, by a new method, to re- 
store domestic peace and confidence. ' No private 
inquiries will, in any case, be made into the past of 
the parties concerned. The highest references will 
in every instance be given and demanded. Intending 
clients must in the first instance apply by letter to 
Messrs. Gray and Graham. No charge will be made 
for a first interview, which can only be granted after 
satisfactory references have been exchanged by 
letter.' 

* If that does not inspire confidence,' said Merton, 
' I don't know what will.' 

' Nothing short of it will do,' said Logan. 



32 THE DISENTANGLERS 

' But the mezzotints will carry weight/ said Trevor, 
'and a few good cloisonnes and enamelled snufT-boxes 
and bronzes will do no harm/ 

So he sent in some weedings of his famous 
collection. 



Ill 

ADVENTURE OF THE FIRST CLIENTS 

MERTON was reading the newspaper in the 
office, expecting a client. Miss Blossom 
was typewriting in the inner chamber; the door 
between was open. The office boy knocked at 
Merton's outer door, and the sound of that boy's 
strangled chuckling was distinctly audible to his 
employer. There is something irritating in the 
foolish merriment of a youthful menial. No con- 
duct could be more likely than that of the office boy 
to irritate the first client, arriving on business of 
which it were hard to exaggerate the delicate and 
anxious nature. 

These reflections flitted through Merton's mind 
as he exclaimed ' Come in, ' with a tone of admon- 
ishing austerity. 

The office boy entered. His face was scarlet, his 
eyes goggled and ran water. Hastily and loudly 
exclaiming * Mr. and Miss Apsley ' (which ended 
with a crow) he stuffed his red pocket handkerchief 
into his mouth and escaped. At the sound of the 
names, Merton had turned towards the inner door, 
open behind him, whence came a clear and pierc- 
ing trill of feminine laughter from Miss Blossom. 
Merton angrily marched to the inner door, and shut 

3 



34 THE DISENTANGLERS 

his typewriter in with a bang. His heart burned 
within him. Nothing could be so insulting to 
clients; nothing so ruinous to a nascent business. 
He wheeled round to greet his visitors with a face 
of apology; his eyes on the average level of the 
human countenance divine. There was no human 
countenance divine. There was no human counte- 
nance at that altitude. His eyes encountered the 
opposite wall, and a print of ' Mrs. Pelham Feeding 
Chickens. ' 

In a moment his eyes adjusted themselves to a 
lower elevation. In front of him were standing, 
hand in hand, a pair of small children, a boy of nine 
in sailor costume, but with bare knees not usually 
affected by naval officers, and a girl of seven with 
her finger in her mouth. 

The boy bowed gravely. He was a pretty little 
fellow with a pale oval face, arched eyebrows, 
promise of an aquiline nose, and two large black 
eyes. *I think, sir,' said the child, *I have the 
pleasure of redressing myself to Mr. Gray or Mr. 
Graham } * 

^Graham, at your service,' said Merton, gravely; 
' may I ask you and Miss Apsley to be seated.' ' 

There was a large and imposing arm-chair in 
green leather; the client's chair. Mr. Apsley 
lifted his little sister into it, and sat down beside 
her himself. She threw her arms round his neck, 
and laid her flaxen curls on his shoulder. Her blue 
eyes looked shyly at Merton out of her fleece of 
gold. The four shoes of the clients dangled at 
some distance above the carpet. 



ADVENTURE OF THE FIRST CLIENTS 35 

* You are the author of this article, I think, Mr. 
Graham ? ' said Mr. Apsley, showing his hand, 
which was warm, and holding out a little crumpled 
ball of paper, not precisely fresh. 

Merton solemnly unrolled it; it contained the 
advertisement of his firm. 

' Yes, ' he said, ' I wrote that. ' 

' You got our letters, for you answered them, * 
said Mr. Apsley, with equal solemnity. ' Why do 
you want Bats and me ? ' 

* The lady's name is Bats? ' said Merton, wonder- 
ing why he was supposed to ' want ' either of the 
pair. 

* My name is Batsy. I like you : you are pretty,' 
said Miss Apsley. 

Merton positively blushed : he was unaccustomed 
to compliments so frank from a member of the sex 
at an early stage of a business interview. He 
therefore kissed his fair client, who put up a pair 
of innocent damp lips, and then allowed her atten- 
tion to be engrossed by a coin on his watch-chain. 

' I don't quite remember your case, sir, or what 
you mean by saying I wanted you, though I am 
delighted to see you, ' he said to Mr. Apsley. ' We 
have so many letters! With your permission I shall 
consult the letter book. ' 

' The article says " To Parents, Guardians, Chil- 
dren, and others. " It was in print, ' remarked Mr. 
Apsley, with a heavy stress on "children," and she 
said you wanted us. ' 

The mystified Merton, wondering who * she ' was, 
turned the pages of the letter book, mumbling. 



36 THE DISENTANGLERS 

* Abernethy, Applecombe, Ap. Davis, Apsley. 
Here we are, ' he began to read the letter aloud. It 
was typewritten, which, when he saw his clients, 
not a little surprised him. 

' Gentlemen, ' the letter ran, ' having seen your 
advertisement in the Daily Diatribe of to-day, May 
17, I desire to express my wish to enter into com- 
munication with you on a matter of pressing im> 
portance. — I am, in the name of my sister, Miss 
Josephine Apsley, and myself, 

* Faithfully yours, 

' Thomas Lloyd Apsley. ' 

' That's the letter, ' said Mr. Apsley, ' and you 
wrote to us.' 

* And what did I say? ' asked Merton. 

' Something about preferences, which we did not 
understand. ' 

' References, perhaps, ' said Merton. * Mr. Aps- 
ley, may I ask whether you wrote this letter 
yourself.^ ' 

' No ; None-so-pretty printed it on a kind of sew- 
ing machine. She told us to come and see you, so 
we came. / called her None-so-pretty, out of a 
fairy story. She does not mind. Gran says she 
thinks she rather likes it. ' 

'I shouldn't wonder if she did,' said Merton. 
' But what is her real name } ' 

' She made me promise not to tell. She was 
staying at the Home Farm when we were staying 
at Gran's.' 

' Is Gran your grandmother ? ' 



ADVENTURE OF THE FIRST CLIENTS 37 

' Yes,' replied Mr. Apsley. 

Hereon Bats remarked that she was 'velly hun- 
galee. ' 

' To be sure/ said Merton. ' Luncheon shall be 
brought at once.' He rang the bell, and, going 
out, interpellated the office boy. 

' Why did you laugh when my friends came to 
luncheon? You must learn manners.' 

* Please, sir, the kid, the young gentleman I 
mean, said he came on business, ' answered the boy, 
showing apoplectic symptoms. 

'So he did; luncheon is his business. Go and 
bring luncheon for — five, and see that there are 
chicken, cutlets, tartlets, apricots, and ginger-beer. ' 

The boy departed and Merton reflected. ' A 
hoax, somebody's practical joke,' he said to him- 
self. ' I wonder who Miss None-so-pretty is. ' 
Then he returned, assured Batsy that luncheon was 
even at the doors, and leaving her to look at Punch, 
led Mr. Apsley aside. ' Tommy, ' he said (having 
seen his signature), ' where do you live ? ' 

The boy named a street on the frontiers of St 
John's Wood. 

' And who is your father ? ' 

' Major Apsley, D. S. O. ' 

' And how did you come here.^ ' 

* In a hansom. I told the man to wait ' 
' How did you get away? ' 

' Father took us to Lord's, with Miss Limmer, 
and there was a crowd, and Bats and I slipped out; 
for None-so-pretty said we ought to call on you. ' 

' Who is Miss Limmer? ' 



38 THE DISENTANGLERS 

' Our governess. ' 

' Have you a mother? ' 

The child's brown eyes filled with tears, and his 
cheeks flushed. ' It was in India that she ' 

' Yes, be a man, Tommy. I am looking the 
other way,' which Merton did for some seconds. 
' Now, Tommy, is Miss Limmer kind to you.' ' 

The child's face became strangely set and blank; 
his eyes looking vacant. ' Miss Limmer is very 
kind to us. She loves us and we love her dearly. 
Ask Batsy, ' he said in a monotonous voice, as if be 
were repeating a lesson. * Batsy, come here, ' he 
said in the same voice. ' Is Miss Limmer kind to 
us?' 

Batsy threw up her eyes — it was like a stage 
effect, ' We love Miss Limmer dearly, and she loves 
us. She is very, very kind to us, like our dear 
mamma. ' Her voice was monotonous too. ' I 
never can say the last part, ' said Tommy. ' Batsy 
knows it; about dear mamma.' 

* Indeed 1 ' said Merton. ' Tommy, wAy did you 
come here ? ' 

* I don't know. I told you that None-so-pretty 
told us to. She did it after she saw t/tat when we 
were bathing. ' Tommy raised one of his little loose 
breeks that did not cover the knee. 

TAat was not pleasant to look on : it was on the 
inside of the right thigh. 

' How did you get hurt t/iere t ' asked Merton. 

The boy's monotonous chant began again : his eyes 
were fixed and blank as before. ' I fell ofT a tree, 
and my leg hit a branch on the way down.' 



ADVENTURE OF THE FIRST CLIENTS 39 

* Curious accident/ said Merton ; * and None-so- 
pretty saw the mark ? ' 

* Yes/ 

* And asked you how you got it? 

' Yes> and she saw blue marks on Batsy, all over 
her arms.' 

* And you told None-so-pretty that you fell off a 
tree?' 

' Yes.' 

* And she told you to come here? ' 

* Yes, she had read your printed article.' 

*WeIl, here is luncheon/ said Merton, and bade 
the office boy call Miss Blossom from the inner 
chamber to share the meal. Batsy had as low a 
chair as possible, and was disposing her napkin to do 
the duty of a pinafore. 

Miss Blossom entered from within with downcast 
eyes. 

* None-so-pretty ! ' 

' None-so-pretty ! ' shouted the children, while 
Tommy rushed to throw his arms round her neck, to 
meet which she stooped down, concealing a face of 
blushes. Batsy descended from her chair, waddled 
up, climbed another chair, and attacked the girl from 
the rear. The office boy was arranging luncheon. 
Merton called him to the writing-table, scribbled a 
note, and said, * Take that to Dr. Maitland, with my 
compliments.' 

Maitland had been one of the guests at the in- 
augural dinner. He was entirely devoid of patients, 
and was living on the anticipated gains of a great 
work on Clinical Psychology. 



40 THE DISENTANGLERS 

'Tell Dr. Maitland he will find me at luncheon 
if he comes instantly/ said Merton as the boy fled on 
his errand. * I see that I need not introduce you 
to my young friends, Miss Blossom/ said Merton. 
' May I beg you to help Miss Apsley to arrange her 
tucker?' 

Miss Blossom, almost unbecomingly brilliant in 
her complexion, did as she was asked. Batsy had 
cold chicken, new potatoes, green peas, and two 
helpings of apricot tart. Tommy devoted himself to 
cutlets. A very mild shandygaff was compounded 
for him in an old Oriel pewter. Both children made 
love to Miss Blossom with their eyes. It was not at 
all what Merton felt inclined to do; the tady had 
entangled him in a labyrinth of puzzledom. 

' None-so-pretty,' exclaimed Tommy, ' I am glad 
you told us to come here. Your friends are 
nice/ 

Merton bowed to Tommy, 'I am glad too,' he 
said. ' Miss Blossom knew that we were kindred 
souls, same kind of chaps, I mean, you and me, you 
know. Tommy ! ' 

Miss Blossom became more and more like the 
fabled peony, the crimson variety. Luckily the 
ofiice boy ushered in Dr. Maitland, who, exchanging 
glances of surprise with Merton, over the children's 
heads, began to make himself agreeable. He had 
nearly as many tricks as Miss Maskelyne. He was 
doing the shortsighted man eating celery, and unable 
to find the salt because he is unable to find his 
eyeglass. 

Merton, seeing his clients absorbed in mirth, mur- 



ADVENTURE OF THE FIRST CLIENTS 41 

mured something vague about ' business/ and spirited 
Miss Blossom away to the inner chamber. 

* Sit down, pray, Miss Blossom. There is no time 
to waste. What do you know about these children? 
Why did you send them here?' 

The girl, who was pale enough now, said, ' I never 
thought they would come.' 

'They are here, however. What do you know 
about them?' 

' I went to stay, lately, at the Home Farm on their 
grandmother's place. We became great friends. I 
found out that they were motherless, and that they 
were being cruelly ill-treated by their governess.' 

* Miss Limmer? ' 

* Yes. But they both said they loved her dearly. 
They always said that when asked. I gathered from 
their grandmother, old Mrs. Apsley, that their father 
would listen to nothing against the governess. The 
old lady cried in a helpless way, and said he was 
capable of marrying the woman, out of obstinacy, 
if anybody interfered. I had your advertisement, 
and I thought you might disentangle him. It was a 
kind of joke. I only told them that you were a 
kind gentleman. I never dreamed of their really 
coming.' 

' Well, you must take them back again presently, 
there is the address. You must see their father ; you 
must wait till you see him. And how are you to 
explain this escapade? I can't have the children 
taught to lie.' 

' They have been taught tkat lesson already.' 

' I don't think they are aware of it, ' said Merton. 



43 THE DISENTANGLERS 

Miss Blossom stared. 

* I can't explain, but you must find a way of 
keeping them out of a scrape.' 

'I think I can manage it/ said Miss Blossom 
demurely. 

* I hope so. And manage, if you please, to see 
this Miss Limmer and observe what kind of person 
she is/ said Merton, with his hand on the door 
handle, adding, ' Please ask Dr. Mai t land to come 
here, and do you keep the children amused for a 
moment. ' 

Miss Blossom nodded and left the room; there 
was laughter in the other chamber. Presently 
Maitland joined Merton. 

' Look here, ' said Merton, ' we must be rapid. 
These children are being cruelly ill-treated and 
deny it. Will you get into talk with the boy, and 
ask him if he is fond of his governess, say " Miss 
Limmer," and notice what he says and how he says 
it t Then we must pack them away. ' 

' All right, ' said Maitland. 

They returned to the children. Miss Blossom 
retreated to the inner room. Bats simplified mat- 
ters by falling asleep in the client's chair. Mait- 
land began by talking about schools. Was Tommy 
going to Eton ? 

Tommy did not know. He had a governess at 
home. 

' Not at a preparatory school yet.? A big fellow 
like you ? ' 

Tommy said that he would like to go to school, 
but they would not send him. 



ADVENTURE OF THE FIRST CLIENTS 43 

•Why not?' 

Tommy hesitated, blushed, and ended by saying 
that they did n't think it safe, as he walked in his 
sleep. 

* You will soon grow out of that, ' said Maitland, 
* but it is not very safe at school. A boy I knew 
was found sound asleep on the roof at school. ' 

* He might have fallen off,' said Tommy. 

* Yes. That 's why your people keep you at 
home. But in a year or two you will be all right. 
Know any Latin yet? ' 

Tommy said that Miss Limmer taught him Latin. 

' Are you and she great friends ? ' 

Tommy's face and voice altered as before, while 
he mechanically repeated the tale of the mutual 
affection which linked him with Miss Limmer. 

' That's all very jolly,' said Maitland. 

* Now, Tommy, ' said Merton, * we must waken 
Batsy, and Miss Blossom is going to take you both 
home. Hope we shall often meet. ' 

He called Miss Blossom; Batsy kissed both of 
her new friends. Merton conducted the party to 
the cab, and • settled, in spite of Tommy's remon- 
strances, with the cabman, who made a good thing 
of it, and nodded when told to drive away as soon as 
he had deposited his charges at their door. Then 
Merton led Maitland upstairs and offered him a cigar. 

' What do you think of it ? ' he asked. 

' Common post-hypnotic suggestion by the gov- 
erness,' said Maitland. 

' I guessed as much, but can it really be worked 
like that ? You are not chaffing ? ' 



44 THE DISENTANGLERS 

- ' Simplest thing to work in the world, ' said Mait- 
land. ' A lot of nonsense, however, that the public 
believes in can't be done. The woman could not 
sit down in St. John's Wood, and "will" Tommy to 
come to her if he was in the next room. At least 
she might "will " till she was black in the face, and 
he would know nothing about it. But she can put 
him to sleep, and make him say what he does not 
want to say, in answer to questions, afterwards, 
when he is awake.' 

' You 're sure of it?' 

* It is as certain as anything in the world up to a 
certain point ' 

'The girl said something that the boy did not 
say, more gushing, about his dead mother.' 

' The hypnotised subject often draws a line some- 
where. ' 

' The woman must be a fiend, ' said Merton. 

' Some of them are, now and then, ' said the 
author of Clinical Psychology, 

• •••.• 

Miss Blossom's cab, the driver much encouraged 
by Tommy, who conversed with him through the 
trap in the roof, dashed up to the door of a house 
close to Lord's. The horse was going fast, and 
nearly cannoned into another cab-horse, also going 
fast, which was almost thrown on its haunches by 
the driver. Inside the other hansom was a tall man 
with a pale face under the tan, who was nervously 
gnawing his moustache. Miss Blossom saw him, 
Tommy saw him, and cried ' Father! ' Half-hidden 
behind a blind of the house Miss Blossom beheld a 



ADVENTURE OF THE FIRST CLIENTS 45 

woman's face^ expectant. Clearly she was Miss 
Limmer. All the while that they were driving 
Miss Blossom's wits had been at work to construct 
a story to account for the absence and return of the 
children. Now, by a flash of invention, she called 
to her cabman, 'Drive on — fast!' Major Apsley 
saw his lost children with their arms round the neck 
of a wonderfully pretty girl ; the pretty girl waved 
her parasol to him with a smile, beckoning for- 
wards; the children waved their arms, calling out 
' A race I a race ! ' 

What could a puzzled parent do but bid his cab- 
man follow like the wind? Miss Blossom's cab 
flew past Lord's, dived into Regent's Park, leading 
by^two lengths; reached the Zoological Gardens, 
and there its crew alighted, demurely waiting for 
the Major. He leaped from his hansom, and taking 
ofF his hat, strode up to Miss Blossom, as if he were 
leading a charge. The children captured him by 
the legs. ' What does this mean. Madam ? What 
are you doing with my children J Who are you ? ' 

'She's None-so-pretty,' said Tommy, by way of 
introduction. 

Miss Blossom bowed with grace, and raising her 
head, shot two violet rays into the eyes of the 
Major, which were of a bistre hue. But they ac- 
cepted the message, like a receiver in wireless 
telegraphy. No man, let be a Major, could have 
resisted None-so-pretty at that moment. ' Come 
into the gardens, ' she said, and led the way. ' You 
would like a ride on the elephant, Tommy?' she 
asked Master Apsley. ' And you, Batsy ? ' 



46 THE DISENTANGLERS 

The children shouted assent. 
' How in the world does she know them ? ' thought 
the bewildered officer. 

The children mounted the elephant. 

* Now, Major Apsley, ' said Miss Blossom, * I 
have found your children.' 

' I owe you thanks, Madam ; I have been very 
anxious, but ' 

' It is more than your thanks I want. I want you 
to do something for me, a very little thing,' said 
Miss Blossom, with the air of a supplicating angel, 
the violet eyes dewy with tears. 

' I am sure I shall be delighted to do anything 
you ask, but ' 

' Will you promise t It is a very little thing 
indeed!' and her hands were clasped in entreaty. 
* Please promise ! ' 

' Well, I promise.' 

* Then keep your word : it is a little thing ! Take 
Tommy home this instant, let nobody speak to him 
or touch him — and — make him take a bath, and 
see him take it.' 

* Take a bath ! ' 

' Yes, at once, in your presence. Then ask him 
. . . any questions you please, but pay extreme 
attention to his answers and his face, and the sound 
of his voice. If that is not enough do the same 
with Batsy. And after that I think you had better 
not let the children out of your sight for a short time. ' 

* These are very strange requests. ' 

' And it was by a strange piece of luck that I met 
you driving home to see if the lost children were 



ADVENTURE OF THE FIRST CLIENTS 47 

founds and secured your attention before it could be 
pre-engaged. ' 

' But where did you find them and why ? * 

Miss Blossom interrupted him, ' Here is the ad- 
dress of Dr. Maitland, I have written it on my own 
card; he can answer some questions you may want 
to ask. Later I will answer anything. And now 
in the name of God/ said the girl reverently, with 
sudden emotion, ' you will keep your promise to the 
letter?' 

' I will/ said the Major, and Miss Blossom waved 
her parasol to the children. ' You must give the 
poor elephant a rest, he is tired, ' she cried, and the 
tender-hearted Batsy needed no more to make her 
descend from the great earth-shaking beast. The 
children attacked her with kisses, and then walked 
o£F, looking back, each holding one of the paternal 
hands, and treading, after the manner of childhood, 
on the paternal toes. 

Miss Blossom walked till she met an opportune 
omnibus. 

About an hour later a four-wheeler bore a woman 
with blazing eyes, and a pile of trunks gaping 
untidily, from the Major's house in St. John's 
Wood Road. 

The Honourable Company had won its first vic- 
tory : Major Apsley, having fulfilled Miss Blossom's 
commands, had seen what she expected him to see, 
and was disentangled from Miss Limmer. 

The children still call their new stepmother 
None-so-pretty. 



IV 

ADVENTURE OF THE RICH UNCLE 

* T TIS God is his belly, Mr. Graham,* said the 
L X client, * and if the text strikes you as dis- 
agreeably unrefined, think how it must pain me to 
speak thus of an uncle, if only by marriage. ' 

The client was a meagre matron of forty-five, or 
thereabouts. Her dark scant hair was smooth, and 
divided down the middle. Acerbity spoke in every 
line of her face, which was of a dusky yellow, 
where it did not rather verge on the faint hues of a 
violet past its prime. She wore thread gloves, and 
she carried a battered reticule of early Victorian 
days, in which Merton suspected that tracts were 
lurking. She had an anxious peevish mouth; in 
truth she was not the kind of client in whom Mer- 
ton's heart delighted. 

And yet he was sorry for her, especially as her 
rich uncle's cook was the goddess of the gentleman 
whose god had just been denounced in scriptural 
terms by the client, a Mrs. Gisbome. She was sad, 
as well she might be, for she was a struggler, with 
a large family, and great expectations from the 
polytheistic uncle who adored his cook and one of 
his nobler organs. 



ADVENTURE OF THE RICH UNCLE 49 

'What has his history been^ this gentleman's — 
Mr. Fulton, I think you called him ? ' 

'He was a drysalter in the City, sir/ and across 
Merton's mind flitted a vision of a dark shop with 
Finnan haddocks, bacon, and tongues in the win- 
dow, and smelling terribly of cheese. 

' Oh, a drysalter ? ' he said, not daring to display 
ignorance by asking questions to corroborate his 
theory of the drysalting business. 

' A drysalter, sir, and isinglass importer. ' 

Merton was conscious of vagueness as to isinglass, 
and was distantly reminded of a celebrated race- 
horse. However, it was clear that Mr. Fulton was 
a retired tradesman of some kind. ' He went out of 
isinglass — before the cheap scientific substitute 
was invented (it is made out of old quill pens) — 
with seventy-five thousand pounds. And it ought to 
come to my children. He has not another relation 
living but ourselves; he married my aunt. But we 
never see him : he said that he could not stand our 
Sunday dinners at Hampstead. ' 

A feeling not remote from sympathy with Mr. 
Fulton stole over Merton*s mind as he pictured 
these festivals. ' Is his god very — voluminous? ' 

Mrs. Gisborne stared. 

' Is he a very portly gentleman ? ' 

' No, Mr. Graham, he is next door to a skeleton, 
though you would not expect it, considering. ' 

' Considering his devotion to the pleasures of the 
table?' 

' Gluttony, shameful waste / call it. And he is 
a stumbling block and a cause of offence to others. 

4 



50 THE DISENTANGLERS 

He is a patron of the City and Suburban College of 
Cookery, and founded two scholarships there, for 
scholars learning how to pamper the ' 

*The epicure,' said Merton. He knew the City 
and Suburban College of Cookery. One of his 
band, a Miss Frere, was a Fellow and Tutor of that 
academy. 

' And about what age is your uncle ? * he asked. 

^ About sixty, and not a white hair on his head.' 

'Then he may marry his cook? * 

* He will, sir. ' 

'And is very likely to have a family.' 
Mrs. Gisborne snifiEed, and produced a pocket 
handkerchief from the early Victorian reticule. 
She applied the handkerchief to her eyes in si- 
lence. Merton observed her with pity. * We need 
the money so; there are so many of us,' said the 
lady. 

* Do you think that Mr. Fulton is — passionately 
in love, with his domestic ? ' 

'He only loves his meals,' said Mrs. Gisborne; 
*Ae does not want to marry her, but she has a hold 
over him through — his ' 

' Passions, not of the heart, ' said Merton hastily. 
He dreaded an anatomical reference. 

' He is afraid of losing her. He and his cronies 
give each other dinners, jealous of each other they 
are ; and he actually pays the woman two hundred a 
year. ' 

' And beer money ? ' said Merton. He had some- 
where read or heard of beer money as an item in 
domestic finance. 



ADVENTURE OF THE RICH UNCLE 51 

'I don't know about that. The cruel thing is 
that she is a woman of strict temperance principles. 
So am I. I am sure it is an awful thing to say, Mr. 
Graham, but Satan has sometimes put it into my 
heart to wish that the woman, like too, too many of 
her sort, was the victim of alcoholic temptations. 
He has a fearful temper, and if once she was not fit 
for duty at one of his dinners, this awful gnawing 
anxiety would cease to ride my bosom. He would 
pack her ofF. ' 

*Very natural. She is free from the besetting 
sin of the artistic temperament ? ' 

' If you mean drink, she is ; and that is one reason 
why he values her. His last cook, and his last 

but one * Here Mrs. Gisbome narrated at 

some length the tragic histories of these artists. 

'Providential, I thought it, but now ,' she said 

despairingly. 

'She certainly seems a diiSicult woman to dis- 
lodge,' said Merton. 'A dangerous entanglement. 
Any followers allowed? Could anything be done 
through the softer emotions } Would a guardsman, 
for instance ? * 

' She hates the men. Never one of them darkens 
her kitchen fire. Offers she has had by the score, 
but they come by post, and she laughs and burns 
them. Old Mr. Potter, one of his cronies, tried to 
get her away tAat way, but he is over seventy, and 
old at that, and she thought she had another chance 
to better herself. And she '11 take it, Mr. Graham, 
if you can't do something : she '11 take it.' 

' Will you permit me to say that you seem to know 



52 THE DISENTANGLERS 

a good deal about her! Perhaps you have some 
sort of means of intelligence in the enemy's camp ? ' 

' The kitchen maid/ said Mrs. Gisborne, purpling 
a little, ' is the sister of our servant, and tells her 
things.' 

* I see/ said Merton. ' Now can you remember 
any little weakness of this, I must frankly admit, 
admirable artist and exemplary woman?' 

' You are not going to take her side, a scheming 
red-faced hussy, Mr. Graham?' 

' I never betrayed a client, Madam, and if you 
mean that I am likely to help this person into your 
uncle's arms, you greatly misconceive me, and the 
nature of my profession.' 

' I beg your pardon, sir, but I will say that your 
heart does not seem to be in the case/ 

* It is not quite the kind of case with which we 
are accustomed to deal,' said Merton. ' But you 
have not answered my question. Are there any 
weak points in the defence? To Venus she is cold, 
of Bacchus she is disdainful/ 

' I never heard of the gentlemen I am sure, sir, 

but as to her weaknesses, she has the temper of a ' 

Here Mrs. Gisborne paused for a comparison. Her 
knowledge of natural history and of mythology, the 
usual sources of parallels, failed to provide a satis- 
factory resemblance to the cook's temper. 

' The temper of a Megaera/ said Merton, admitting 
to himself that the word was not, though mythologi- 
cal, what he could wish. 

' Of a Megaera as you know that creature, sir, and 
impetuous! If everything is not handy, if that 



ADVENTURE OF THE RICH UNCLE 53 

poor girl is not like clockwork with the sauces, and 
herbs, and things, if a saucepan boils over, or a ham 
falls into the fire, if the girl treads on the tail of one 
of the cats — and the woman keeps a dozen — then 
she flies at her with anything that comes handy/ 

'She is fond of cats?' said Merton; 'really this 
lady has sympathetic points : ' and he patted the 
grey Russian puss, Kutuzoff, which was a witness to 
these interviews. 

' She dotes on the nasty things : and you may well 
say " lady ! " Her Siamese cat, a wild beast he is, 
took the first prize at the Crystal Palace Show. 
The papers said " Miss Blowser's Rangoon, bred by 
the exhibitor." Miss Blowser! I don't know what 
the world is coming to. He stands on the door- 
steps, the cat, like a lynx, and as fierce as a lion. 
Why he got her into the police-court : flew at a dog, 
and nearly tore his owner, a clergyman, to pieces. 
There were articles about it in the papers.' 

' I seem to remember it,' said Merton. ' Christianos 
ad Leones^ In fact he had written this humorous ar- 
ticle himself. ' But is there nothing else? ' he asked. 
'Only a temper, so natural to genius disturbed or 
diverted in the process of composition, and a 
passion for the felidae, such as has often been 
remarked in the great. There was Charles Baude- 
laire, Mahomet ' 

' I don't know what you mean, sir, and,' said Mrs. 
Gisborne, rising, and snapping her reticule, ' I think 
I was a fool for answering your advertisement. I 
did not come here to be laughed at, and I think 
common politeness * 



54 THE DISENTANGLERS 

' I beg a thousand pardons/ said Merton. ' I am 
most distressed at my apparent discourtesy. My 
mind was preoccupied by the circumstances of this 
very difficult case, and involuntarily glided into liter- 
ary anecdote on the subject of cats and their owners. 
They are my passion — cats — and I regret that they 
inspire you with antipathy.' Here he picked up 
Kutuzoff and carried him into the inner room. 

' It is not that I object to any of Heaven's crea- 
tures kept in their place/ said Mrs. Gisborne some- 
what mollified, ' but you must make allowances, sir, 
for my anxiety. It sours a mother of nine. Friday 
is one of his gorging dinner-parties, and who knows 
what may happen if she pleases him? The kitchen 
maid says, I mean I hear, that she wears an engaged 
ring already. ' 

'That is very bad,' said Merton, with sympathy. 
'The dinner is on Friday, you say?' and he made 
a note of the date. 

' Yes, IS Albany Grove, on the Regent's Canal.' 

' You can think of nothing else — no weakness to 
work on ? ' 

' No, sir, just her awful temper ; I would save him 
from it, for he has another as bad. And besides hopes 
from him have kept me up so long, his only rela- 
tion, and times are so hard, and schooling and boots, 
and everything so dear, and we so many in family/ 
Tears came into the poor lady's eyes. 

* I '11 give the case my very best attention,' he said, 
shaking hands with the client. To Merton's horror 
she tried. Heaven help her, to pass a circular packet, 
wrapped in paper, into his hand. He evaded it. It 



ADVENTURE OF THE RICH UNCLE 55 

was a first interview, for which no charge was made. 
'What can be done shall be done, though I confess 
that I do not see my way/ and he accompanied her 
downstairs to the street. 

' I behaved like a cad with my chaff/ he said to 
himself, * but hang me if I see how to help her. And 
I rather admire that cook.' 

He went into the inner room, wakened the sleeping 
partner, Logan, on the sofa, and unfolded the case 
with every detail. ' What can we do, que f aire I ' 

'There's an exhibition of modern, medieval, 
ancient, and savage cookery at Earl's Court, the 
Cookeries,' said Logan. ' Could n't we seduce an 
artist like Miss Blowser there, I mean thither of 
course, the night before the dinner, and get her up 
into the Great Wheel and somehow stop the Wheel 
— and make her too late for her duties?' 

' And how are you going to stop the Wheel? ' 

'Speak to the Man at the Wheel. Bribe the 
beggar.' 

'Dangerous, and awfully expensive. Then think 
of all the other people on the Wheel ! Logan, vous 
chassez de race. The old Restalrig blood is in your 
veins.' 

' My ancestors nearly nipped off with a king, and 
why can't I cany off a cook ? Hustle her into a 
hansom ' 

' Oh, bah ! these are not modern methods.' 

* II liy a rien tel que (Tenlever' said Logan. 

' I never shall stain the cause with police-courts,' 
said Merton. ' It would be fatal.' 

' I 've heard of a cook who fell on his sword when 



S6 THE DISENTANGLERS 

the fish did not come up to time. Now a raid on the 
fish? She might fall on her carving knife when they 
did not arrive, or leap into the flames of the kitchen 
fire, like CEnone, don't you know.' 

'Bosh. Vatel was far from the sea, and he had 
not a fish-monger's shop round the corner. Be 
modern.' 

Logan rumpled his hair, ' Can't I get her to lunch 
at a restaurant and ply her with the wines of Eastern 
France? No, she is Temperance personified. Can't 
we send her a forged telegram to say that her mother 
is dying? Servants seem to have such lots of 
mothers, always inconveniently, or conveniently, 
moribund.' 

' I won't have forgery. Great heavens, how ob- 
solete you are ! Besides, that would not put her 
employer in a rage.' 

'Could I go and consult ?' he mentioned a 

specialist ' He is a man of ideas.' 

'He is a man of the purest principles — and an 
uncommonly hard hitter.' 

' It is his purity I want. My own mind is heredi- 
tarily lawless. I want something not immoral, yet 
efficacious. There was that parson, whom you say 
the woman's cat nearly devoured. Like Paul with 
beasts he fought the cat. Now, I wonder if that 
injured man is not meditating some priestly re- 
venge that would do our turn and get rid of Miss 
Blowser?' 

Merton shook his head impatiently. His own 
invention was busy, but to no avail. Miss Blowser 
seemed impregnable. KutuzofT HedzofT, the puss. 



ADVENTURE OF THE RICH UNCLE 57 

stalked up to Logan and leaped on his knees. Logan 
stroked him, Kutuzoff purred and blinked, Logan 
sought inspiration in his topaz eyes. At last he 
spoke: 'Will you leave this affair to me, Merton? 
I think I have found out a way.' 

'What way?' 

' That 's my secret. You are so beastly moral, 
you might object. One thing I may tell you — it 
does not compromise the Honourable Company of 
Disentanglers.' 

' You are not going to try any detective work ; to 
find out if she is a woman with a past, with a husband 
living? You are not going to put a live adder among 
the eels? I daresay drysalters eat eels. It is the 
reading of sensational novels that ruins our youth.' 

' What a suspicious beggar you are. Certainly I 
am neither a detective nor a murderer d la Montipin! 

* No practical jokes with the victuals? ' 
' Of course not' 

' No kidnapping Miss Blowser?' 

* Certainly no kidnapping — Miss Blowser.' 

' Now, honour bright, is your plan within the law ? 
No police-court publicity?' 

* No, the police will have no say or show in the 
matter; at least,' said Logan, 'as far as my legal 
studies inform me, they won't. But I can take 
counsel's opinion if you insist on it' 

* Then you are sailing near the wind ? ' 

' Really I don't think so : not really what you call 
near.' 

' I am sorry for that unlucky Mrs. Gisborne,' said 
Merton, musingly. ' And with two such tempers as 



SS THE DISENTANGLERS 

the cook's and Mr. Fulton's the match could not be 
a happy one. Well, Logan, I suppose you won't tell 
me what your game is? ' 

' Better not, I think, but, I assure you, honour is safe. 
I am certain that nobody can say anything. I rather 
expect to earn public gratitude, on the whole. You 
can't appear in any way, nor the rest of us. By-the- 
bye do you remember the address of the parson whose 
dog was hurt?' 

'I think I kept a cutting of the police case; it 
was amusing,' said Merton, looking through a kind 
of album, and finding presently the record of the 
incident. 

' It may come in handy, or it may not,' said Logan. 
He then went off, and had Merton followed him he 
might not have been reassured. For Logan first 
walked to a chemist's shop, where he purchased a 
quantity of a certain drug. Next he went to the 
fencing rooms which he frequented, took his fencing 
mask and glove, borrowed a fencing glove from a 
left-handed swordsman whom he knew, and drove to 
his rooms with this odd assortment of articles. Hav- 
ing deposited them, he paid a call at the dwelling of 
a fair member of the Disentanglers, Miss Frere, the 
lady instructress in the culinary art, at the City and 
Suburban College of Cookery, whereof, as we have 
heard, Mr. Fulton, the eminent drysalter, was a patron 
and visitor. Logan unfolded the case and his plan 
of campaign to Miss Frere, who listened with intelli- 
gent sympathy. 

' Do you know the man by sight? ' he asked. 

' Oh yes, and he knows me perfectly well. Last 



ADVENTURE OF THE RICH UNCLE 59 

year he distributed the prizes at the City and Subur- 
ban School of Cookery, and paid me the most ex- 
traordinary compliments/ 

' Well deserved, I am confident/ said Logan ; ' and 
now you are sure that you know exactly what you 
have to do, as I have explained ? ' 

* Yes, I am to be walking through Albany Grove 
at a quarter to four on Friday/ 

* Be punctual/ 

' You may rely on me,' said Miss Frere. 

Logan next day went to Trevor's rooms in the 
Albany; he was the capitalist who had insisted on 
helping to finance the Disentanglers. To Trevor he 
explained the situation, unfolded his plan, and asked 
leave to borrow his private hansom. 

* Delighted,' said Trevor. ' I '11 put on an old suit 
of tweeds, and a seedy bowler, and drive you myself. 
It will be fun. Or should we take my motor car? ' 

' No, it attracts too much attention.' 

' Suppose we put a number on my cab, and paint 
the wheels yellow, like pirates, you know, when they 
are disguising a captured ship. It won't do to look 
like a private cab.' 

* These strike me as judicious precautions, Trevor, 
and worthy of your genius. That is, if we are not 
caught.' 

*Oh, we won't be caught,' said Trevor, 'But, in 
the meantime, let us find that place you mean to go 
to on a map of London, and I '11 drive you there now 
in a dog-cart. It is better to know the lie of the land.' 

Logan agreed and they drove to his objective in 
the afternoon; it was beyond the border of known 



6o THE DISENTANGLERS 

West Hammersmith. Trevor reconnoitred and made 
judicious notes of short cuts. 

On the following day, which was Thursday, Logan 
had a difficult piece of diplomacy to execute. He 
called at the rooms of the clergyman, a bachelor and 
a curate, whose dog and person had suffered from the 
assaults of Miss Blowser's Siamese favourite. He ex- 
pected difficulties, for a good deal of ridicule, includ- 
ing Merton's article, Christianas ad LeoneSy had been 
heaped on this martyr. Logan looked forward to 
finding him crusty, but, after seeming a little puzzled, 
the holy man exclaimed, ' Why, you must be Logan 
of Trinity?* 

'The same,' said Logan, who did not remember 
the face or name (which was Wilkinson) of his host. 

' Why, I shall never forget your running catch under 
the scoring-box at Lord's,' exclaimed Mr. Wilkinson, 
' I can see it now. It saved the match. I owe you 
more than I can say,' he added with deep emotion. 

'Then be grateful, and do me a little favour. I 
want — just for an hour or two — to borrow your 
dog,' and he stooped to pat the animal, a fox-terrier 
bearing recent and glorious scars. 

' Borrow Scout ! Why, what can you want with 
him?' 

'I have suffered myself through an infernal wild 
beast of a cat in Albany Grove,* said Logan, * and I have 
a scheme — it is unchristian I own — of revenge.' 

The curate's eyes glittered vindictively : ' Scout is 
no match for the brute,* he said in a tone of manly 
regret. 

' Oh, Scout will be all right. There is not going to 



ADVENTURE OF THE RICH UNCLE 6i 

be a fight. He is only needed to — give tone to the 
affair. You will be able to walk him safely through 
Albany Grove after to-morrow.' 

'Won't there be a row if you kill the cat? He is 
what they think a valuable animal. I never could 
stand cats myself.' 

' The higher vermin/ said Logan. ' But not a hair 
of his whiskers shall be hurt. He will seek other 
haunts, that's all.' 

' But you don't mean to steal him? ' asked the cur- 
ate anxiously. ' You see, suspicion might fall on me, 
as I am known to bear a grudge to the brute.' 

' I steal him ! Not I,' said Logan. ' He shall sleep 
in his owner's arms, if she likes. But Albany Grove 
shall know him no more.' 

'Then you may take Scout,' said Mr. Wilkinson. 
' You have a cab there, shall I drive to your rooms 
with you and him?' 

' Do,' said Logan, ' and then dine at the club.' 
Which they did, and talked much cricket, Mr. 
Wilkinson being an enthusiast. 

Next day, about 3.40 p.m., a hansom drew up at 
the corner of Albany Grove. The fare alighted, and 
sauntered past Mr. Fulton's house. Rangoon, the 
Siamese puss, was sitting in a scornful and leonine 
attitude, in a tree of the garden above the railings, 
outside the open kitchen windows, whence came 
penetrating and hospitable smells of good fare. The 
stranger passed, and as he returned, dropped some- 
thing here and there on the pavement It was vale- 
rian, which no cat can resist. 



62 THE DISENTANGLERS 

Miss Blowser was in a culinary crisis, and could 
not leave the kitchen range. Her face was of a fiery 
complexion ; her locks were in a fine disorder. ' Is 
Rangoon in his place, Mary?' she inquired of the 
kitchen maid. 

' Yes, ma'am, in his tree,' said the maid. 

In this tree Rangoon used to sit like a Thug, drop- 
ping down on dogs who passed by. 

Presently the maid said, ' Ma'am, Rangoon has 
jumped down, and is walking off to the right, after 
a gentleman.' 

* After a sparrow, I dare say, bless him,' said Miss 
Blowser. Two minutes later she asked, ' Has Rangy 
come back?' 

' No, ma'am.' 

'Just look out and see what he is doing, the 
dear.' 

' He 's walking along the pavement, ma'am, sniff- 
ing at something. And oh ! there 's that curate's 
dog.' 

' Yelping little brute ! I hope Rangy will give him 
snuff,' said Miss Blowser. 

' He 's flown at him,' cried the maid ambiguously, 
in much excitement. 'Oh, ma'am, the gentleman 
has caught hold of Rangoon. He 's got a wire 
mask on his face, and great thick gloves, not to be 
scratched. He 's got Rangoon : he 's putting him in 
a bag,' but by this time Miss Blowser, brandishing a 
saucepan with a long handle, had rushed out of the 
kitchen, through the little garden, cannoned against 
Mr. Fulton, who happened to be coming in with 
flowers to decorate his table, knocked him against a 




A man iiis^ippe-iriiij; inn. a H;ii 



ADVENTURE OF THE RICH UNCLE 63 

lamp-post, opened the garden gate, and, armed and 
bareheaded as she was, had rushed forth. You might 
have deemed that you beheld Bellona speeding to the 
fray. 

What Miss Blowser saw was a man disappearing 
into a hansom, whence came the yapping of a dog. 
Another cab was loitering by, empty ; and this cab- 
man had his orders. Logan had seen to that. To 
hail that cab, to leap in, to cry, ' Follow the scoun- 
drel in front : a sovereign if you catch him,' was to 
the active Miss Blowser the work of a moment. The 
man whipped up his horse, the pursuit began, ' there 
was racing and chasing on Cannobie Lee,' Marylebone 
rang with the screams of female rage and distress. 
Mr. Fulton, he also, leaped up and rushed in pursuit, 
wringing his hands. He had no turn of speed, and 
stopped panting. He only saw Miss Blowser whisk 
into her cab, he only heard her yells that died in the 
distance. Mr. Fulton sped back into his house. He 
shouted for Mary: 'What's the matter with your 
mistress, with my cook?' he raved. 

' Somebody 's taken her cat, sir, and is off in a cab, 
and her after him.' 

' After her cat ! D her cat,' cried Mr. Fulton. 

' My dinner will be ruined ! It is the last she shall 
touch in this house. Out she packs — pack her things, 
Mary; no, don't — do what you can in the kitchen. I 
must find a cook. Her cat ! ' and with language un- 
worthy of a drysalter Mr. Fulton clapped on his hat, 
and sped into the street, with a vague idea of hurry- 
ing to Fortnum and Mason's, or some restaurant, or a 
friend's house, indeed to any conceivable place where 



64 THE DISENTANGLERS 

a cook might be recruited impromptu. ' She leaves 
this very day/ he said aloud, as he all but collided 
with a lady, a quiet, cool-looking lady, who stopped 
and stared at him. 

' Oh, Miss Frere ! ' said Mr. Fulton, raising his hat, 
with a wild gleam of hope in the trouble of his eyes, 
' I have had such a misfortune ! ' 

' What has happened, Mr. Fulton ? ' 

' Oh, ma'am, I 've lost my cook, and me with a 
dinner-party on to-day/ 

'Lost your cook? Not by death, I hope? ' 

' No, ma'am, she has run away, in the very crisis, 
as I may call it/ 

' With whom ? ' 

'With nobody. After her cat. In a cab. I am 
undone. Where can I find a cook? You may know 
of some one disengaged, though it is late in the day, 
and dinner at seven. Can't you help me? ' 

' Can you trust me, Mr. Fulton ? * 

* Trust you ; how, ma'am ? ' 

' Let me cook your dinner, at least till your cook 
catches her cat,' said Miss Frere, smiling. 

' You, don't mean it, a lady ! ' 

' But a professed cook, Mr. Fulton, and anxious to 
help so nobly generous a patron of the art ... if 
you can trust me.' 

' Trust you, ma'am ! ' said Mr. Fulton, raising to 
heaven his obsecrating hands. ' Why, you 're a genius. 
It is a miracle, a mere miracle of good luck.' 

By this time, of course, a small crowd of little 
boys and girls, amateurs of dramatic scenes, was 
gathering. 



ADVENTURE OF THE RICH UNCLE 65 

'We have no time to waste, Mr. Fulton. Let 
us go in, and let me get to work. I dare say 
the cook will be back before I have taken off my 
gloves.' 

* Not her, nor does she cook again in my house. 
The shock might have killed a man of my age,' said 
Mr. Fulton, breathing heavily, and leading the way 
up the steps to his own door. * Her cat, the hussy ! * 
he grumbled. 

Mr. Fulton kept his word. When Miss Blowser 
returned, with her saucepan and Rangoon, she 
found her trunks in the passage, corded by Mr. 
Fulton's own trembling hands, and she departed 
for ever. 

Her chase had been a stern chase, a long chase, 
the cab driven by Trevor had never been out of 
sight. It led her, in the western wilds, to a Home for 
Decayed and Destitute Cats, and it had driven away 
before she entered the lane leading to the Home. 
But there she found Rangoon. He had just been 
deposited there, in a seedy old traveller's fur-lined 
sleeping bag, the matron of the Home averred, by a 
very pleasant gentleman, who said he had found the 
cat astray, lost, and thinking him a rare and valu- 
able animal had deemed it best to deposit him at the 
Home. He had left money to pay for advertisements. 
He had even left the advertisement, typewritten (by 
Miss Blossom). 

' FOUND. A magnificent Siamese Cat. Apply to 
the Home for Destitute and Decayed Cats, Water 
Lane, West Hammersmith.* 

* Very thoughtful of the gentleman,' said the matron 

5 



66 THE DISENTANGLERS 

of the Home. ' No ; he did not leave any address. 
Said something about doing good by stealth.' 

' Stealth, why he stole my cat ! ' exclaimed Miss 
Blowser. ' He must have had the advertisement 
printed like that ready beforehand. It 's a conspiracy/ 
and she brandished her saucepan. 

The matron, who was prejudiced in favour of 
Logan, and his two sovereigns, which now need not 
be expended in advertisements, was alarmed by the 
hostile attitude of Miss Blowser. 'There's your cat,' 
she said drily ; ' it ain't stealing a cat to leave it, with 
money for its board, and to pay for advertisements, 
in a well-conducted charitable institution, with a 
duchess for president. And he even left five shillings 
to pay for the cab of anybody as might call for the 
cat There is your money.' 

Miss Blowser threw the silver away. 

' Take your old cat in the bag,' said the matron, 

slamming the door in the face of Miss Blowser. 

• ••.... 

After the trial for breach of promise of marriage, 
and after paying the very considerable damages which 
Miss Blowser demanded and received, old Mr. Fulton 
hardened his heart, and engaged a male chef. 

The gratitude of Mrs. Gisborne, now free from all 
anxiety, was touching. But Merton assured her that 
he knew nothing whatever of the stratagem, scarcely 
a worthy one, he thought, as she reported it, by 
which her uncle was disentangled. 

It was Logan's opinion, and it is mine, that he had 
not been guilty of theft, but perhaps of the wrongous 
detention or imprisonment of Rangoon. ' But,' he 



ADVENTURE OF THE RICH UNCLE 67 

said, 'the Habeas Corpus Act has no clause about 
cats, and in Scottish law, which is good enough for 
ffte^ there is no property in cats. You can't, legally, 
steal them.' 

' How do you know?' asked Merton. 

'I took the opinion of an eminent sheriff sub- 
stitute.' 

'What is that?' 

' Oh, a fearfully swagger legal official : you have 
nothing like it.' 

' Rum country, Scotland,' said Merton. 

' Rum country, England,' said Logan, indignantly. 
' You have no property in corpses.' 

Merton was silenced. 

Neither could foresee how momentous, to each of 
them, the question of property in corpses was to 

prove. O pectara ccecat 

■ .«.••• 

Miss Blowser is now Mrs. Potter. She married 
her aged wooer, and Rangoon still wins prizes at the 
Crystal Palace. 



THE ADVENTURE OF THE OFFICE SCREEN 

IT is not to be supposed that all the enterprises 
of the Company of Disentanglers were fortunate. 
Nobody can command success, though, on the other 
hand, a number of persons, civil and military, are 
able to keep her at a distance with surprising uni- 
formity. There was one class of business which 
Merton soon learned to renounce in despair, just as 
some sorts of maladies defy our medical science. 

' It is curious, and not very creditable to our 
chemists,' Merton said, 'that love philtres were 
once as common as seidlitz powders, while now we 
have lost that secret. The wrong persons might 
drink love philtres, as in the case of Tristram and 
Iseult. Or an unskilled rural practitioner might send 
out the wrong drug, as in the instance of Lucretius, 
who went mad in consequence.' 

* Perhaps,' remarked Logan, * the chemist was vot- 
ing at the Comitia, and it was his boy who made a 
mistake about the mixture.' 

* Very probably, but as a rule, the love philtres 
worked. Now, with all our boasted progress, the 
secret is totally lost. Nothing but a love philtre 
would be of any use in some cases. There is Lord 
Methusalem, eighty if he is a day.' 



ADVENTURE OF THE OFFICE SCREEN' 69 

* Methusalem has been unco " wastefu' in wives " ! ' 
said Logan. 

* His family have been consulting me — the women 
in tears. He will marry his grandchildren's German 
governess, and there is nothing to be done. In such 
cases nothing is ever to be done. You can easily dis- 
tract an aged man's volatile affections, and attach 
them to a new charmer. But she is just as ineligible 
as the first ; marry he will, always a young woman. 
Now if a respectable virgin or widow of, say, fifty, 
could hand him a love philtre, and gain his heart, 
appearances would, more or less, be saved. But, 
short of philtres, there is nothing to be done. We 
turn away a great deal of business of that sort.' 

The Society of Disentanglers, then, reluctantly aban- 
doned dealings in this class of affairs. 

In another distressing business, Merton, as a pa- 
triot, was obliged to abandon an attractive enterprise. 
The Marquis of Seakail was serving his country as a 
volunteer, and had been mentioned in despatches. 
But, to the misery of his family, he had entangled 
himself, before his departure, with a young lady who 
taught in a high school for girls. Her character was 
unimpeachable, her person graceful ; still, as her father 
was a butcher, the duke and duchess were reluctant 
to assent to the union. They consulted Merton, and 
assured him that they would not flinch from expense. 
A great idea flashed across Merton's mind. He 
might send out a stalwart band of Disentanglers, 
who, disguised as the enemy, might capture Seakail, 
and carry him ofT prisoner to some retreat where the 
fairest of his female staff (of course with a suitable 



70 THE DISENTANGLERS 

chaperon) y would await him in the character of a 
daughter of the hostile race. The result would 
probably be to detach Seakail's heart from his love 
in England. But on reflection, Merton felt that the 
scheme was unworthy of a patriot 

Other painful cases occurred. One lady, a mother, 
of resolute character, consulted Merton on the case 
of her son. He was betrothed to an excitable girU 
a neighbour in the country, who wrote long literary 
letters about Mr. George Meredith's novels, and 
(when abroad) was a perfect Baedeker, or Murray, 
or Mr. Augustus Hare: instructing through corre- 
spondence. So the matron complained, but this was 
not the worst of it. There was an unhappy family 
history, of a kind infinitely more common in fiction 
than in real life. To be explicit, even according to 
the ideas of the most abject barbarians, the young 
people, unwittingly, were too near akin for matrimony. 

' There is nothing for it but to tell both of them the 
truth,' said Merton. ' This is not a case in which we 
can be concerned.' 

The resolute matron did not take his counsel. The 
man was told, not the girl, who died in painful circum- 
stances, still writing. Her letters were later given to 
the world, though obviously not intended for publi- 
cation, and only calculated to waken unavailing grief 
among the sentimental, and to make the judicious 
tired. There was, however, a case in which Merton 
may be said to have succeeded by a happy accident. 
Two visitors, ladies, were ushered into his consulting 
room; they were announced as Miss Baddeley and 
Miss Crofton. 



ADVENTURE OF THE OFFICE SCREEN 71 

Miss Baddeley was attired in black, wore a thick 
veil, and trembled a good deal. Miss Crofton, whose 
dress was a combination of untoward but decisive 
hues, and whose hat was enormous and flamboyant, 
appeared to be the other young lady's confidante ^ and 
conducted the business of the interview. 

* My dear friend. Miss Baddeley,' she began, when 
Miss Baddeley took her hand, and held it, as if for 
protection and sympathy. * My dear friend,' repeated 
Miss Crofton, * has asked me to accompany her, and 
state her case. She is too highly strung to speak for 
herself.' 

Miss Baddeley wrung Miss Crofton's hand, and 
visibly quivered. 

Merton assumed an air of sympathy. * The situa- 
tion is grave?' he asked. 

* My friend,' said Miss Crofton, thoroughly en- 
joying herself, ' is the victim of passionate and 
unavailing remorse, are you not, Julia?' 

Julia nodded. 

* Deeply as I sympathise,' said Merton, * it appears 
to me that I am scarcely the person to consult. A 
mother now ' 

* Julia has none.' 

* Or a father or sister? ' 

* But for me, Julia is alone in the world.' 

'Then,' said Merton, 'there are many periodi- 
cals especially intended for ladies. There is The 
Woman of the World, The GirVs Guardian Angela 
Fashion and Passion, and so on. The Editors, in 
their columns, reply to questions in cases of con- 
science. I have myself read the replies to Corre- 



72 THE DISENTANGLERS 

spofidents^ and would especially recommend those 
published in a serial conducted by Miss Annie 
Swan.' 

Miss Crofton shook her head. 

' Miss Baddeley's social position is not that of the 
people who are answered in periodicals.* 

* Then why does she not consult some discreet and 
learned person, her spiritual director? Remorse 
(entirely due, no doubt, to a conscience too deli- 
cately sensitive) is not in our line of affairs. We 
only advise in cases of undesirable matrimonial 
engagements.' 

* So we are aware/ said Miss Crofton. ' Dear 
Julia is engaged, or rather entangled, in — how many 
cases, dear? ' 

Julia shook her head and sobbed behind her veil. 

* Is it one, Julia — nod when I come to the exact 
number — two? three? four?' 

At the word * four * Julia nodded assent. 

Merton very much wished that Julia would raise 
her veil. Her figure was excellent, and with so 
many sins of this kind on her remorseful head» her 
face, Merton thought, must be worth seeing. The 
case was new. As a rule, clients wanted to disen- 
tangle their friends and relations. This client wanted 
to disentangle herself. 

* This case,' said Merton, * will be difficult to con- 
duct, and the expenses would be considerable. I can 
hardly advise you to incur them. Our ordinary 
method is to throw in the way of one or other of the 
engaged, or entangled persons, some one who is likely 
to distract their affections ; of course,* he added, ' to 



ADVENTURE OF THE OFFICE SCREEN 73 

a more eligible object. How can I hope to find an 
object more eligible, Miss Crofton, than I must con- 
ceive your interesting friend to be ? ' 

Miss Crofton caressingly raised Julia's veil. Before 
the victim of remorse could bury her face in her hands, 
Merton had time to see that it was a very pretty one. 
Julia was dark, pale, with ' eyes like billiard balls ' (as 
a celebrated amateur once remarked), with a beauti- 
ful mouth, but with a somewhat wildly enthusiastic 
expression. 

'How can I hope?' Merton went on, * to find a 
worthier and more attractive object? Nay, how can 
I expect to secure the services not of one, but of 
four ' 

'Three would do, Mr. Merton,' explained Miss 
Crofton. ' Is it not so, Julia dearest? ' 

Julia again nodded assent, and a sob came from 
behind the veil, which she had resumed. 

'Even three,' said Merton, gallantly struggling 
with a strong inclination to laugh, ' present difficul- 
ties. I do not speak the idle language of compli- 
ment. Miss Crofton, when I say that our staff would 
be overtaxed by the exigencies of this case. The 
expense also, even of three ' 

' Expense is no object, ' said Miss Crofton. 

' But would it not, though I seem to speak against 
my own interests, be the wisest, most honourable, and 
infinitely the least costly course, for Miss Baddeley 
openly to inform her suitors, three out of the four at 
least, of the actual posture of affairs? I have already 
suggested that, as the lady takes the matter so seri- 
ously to heart, she should consult her director, or, 



74 THE DISENTANGLERS 

if of the Anglican or other Protestant denomina- 
tion, her clergyman, who I am sure will agree with 
me.* 

Miss Crofton shook her head. ' Julia is unattached,* 
she said. 

'I had gathered that to one of the four Miss 
Baddeley was — not indifferent/ said Merton. 

* I meant,' said Miss Crofton severely, ' that Miss 
Baddeley is a Christian unattached. My friend is 
sensitive, passionate, and deeply religious, but not 
a member of any recognised denomination. The 
clergy ' 

'They never leave one alone,' said Julia in a musi- 
cal voice. It was the first time that she had spoken. 
'Besides ' she added, and paused. 

' Besides, dear Julia is — entangled with a young 
clergyman whom, almost in despair, she consulted on 
her case — at a picnic,' said Miss Crofton, adding, ' he 
is prepared to seek a martyr's fate, but he insists that 
she must accompany him.' 

* How unreasonable ! ' murmured Merton, who felt 
that this recalcitrant clergyman was probably not the 
favourite out of the field of four. 

* That is what / say,' remarked Miss Crofton. * It 
is unreasonable to expect Julia to accompany him 
when she has so much work to overtake in the home 
field. But that is the way with all of them.' 

* All of them ! ' exclaimed Merton. * Are all the 
devoted young men under vows to seek the crown of 
martyrdom ? Does your friend act as recruiting ser- 
geant, if you will pardon the phrase, for the noble 
army of martyrs? ' 



ADVENTURE OF THE OFFICE SCREEN 75 

* Three of them have made the most solemn 
promises/ 

* And the fourth ? ' 

* He is not in holy orders.* 

*Am I to understand that all the three admirers 
about whom Miss Baddeley suffers remorse are 
clerics ? ' 

*Yes. Julia has a wonderful attraction for the 
Church/ said Miss Crofton, 'and that is what causes 
her difficulties. She catCt write to them^ or com- 
municate to them in personal interviews (as you 
advised), that her heart is no longer ' 

* Theirs/ said Merton. * But why are the clergy 
more privileged than the laity? I have heard of 
such things being broken to laymen. Indeed it has 
occurred to many of us, and we yet live/ 

' I have urged the same facts on Julia myself/ said 
Miss Crofton. * Indeed I knoWy by personal experi- 
ence, that what you say of the laity is true. They 
do not break their hearts when disappointed. But Julia 
replies that for her to act as you and I would advise 
might be to shatter the young clergymen's ideals.' 

' To shatter the ideals of three young men in holy 
orders ! ' said Merton. 

* Yes, for Julia is their ideal — Julia and Duty/ said 
Miss Crofton, as if she were naming a firm. 'She 
lives only/ here Julia twisted the hand of Miss Crof- 
ton, 'she lives only to do good. Her fortune, entirely 
under her own control, enables her to do a great deal 
of good.' 

Merton began to understand that the charms of 
Julia were not entirely confined to her beaux yeux. 



76 THE DISENTANGLERS 

* She is a true philanthropist. Why, she rescued 
me from the snares and temptations of the stage/ said 
Miss Crofton. 

'Oh, now I understand/ said Merton; 'I knew 
that your face and voice were familiar to me. Did 
you not act in a revival of The Country Wife? ' 

' Hush/ said Miss Crofton. 

' And Lady Teazle at an amateur performance in 
the Canterbury week?' 

' These are days of which I do not desire to be 
reminded/ said Miss Crofton. ' I was trying to ex- 
plain to you that Julia lives to do good, and has a 
heart of gold. No, my dear, Mr. Merton will much 
misconceive you unless you let me explain every- 
thing.' This remark was in reply to the agitated 
gestures of Julia. * Thrown much among the younger 
clergy in the exercise of her benevolence, Julia nat- 
urally awakens in them emotions not wholly broth- 
erly. Her sympathetic nature carries her off her 
feet, and she sometimes says "Yes," out of mere 
goodness of heart, when it would be wiser for her 
to say " No " ; don't you, Julia ? ' 

Merton was reminded of one of M. Paul Bourget's 
amiable married heroines, who erred out of sheer 
goodness of heart, but he only signified his intelligence 
and sympathy. 

' Then poor Julia,' Miss Crofton went on hurriedly, 
'finds that she has misunderstood her heart. Re- 
cently, ever since she met Captain Lestrange — of 
the Guards ' 

'The fourth?' asked Merton. 

Miss Crofton nodded. ' She has felt more and more 



ADVENTURE OF THE OFFICE SCREEN 77 

certain that she had misread her heart. But on each 
occasion she has felt this — after meeting the — well, 
the next one/ 

' I see the awkwardness/ murmured Merton. 

' And then Remorse has set in, with all her horrors. 
Julia has wept, oh ! for nights, on my shoulder/ 

* Happy shoulder,' murmured Merton. 

' And so, as she dare not shatter their ideals, and 
perhaps cause them to plunge into excesses, moral or 
doctrinal, this is what she has done. She has said to 
each, that what the Church, any Church, needs is 
martyrs, and that if they will go to benighted lands, 
where the crown of martyrdom may still be won, 
then, if they return safe in five years, then she — will 
think of naming a day. You will easily see the 
attractions of this plan for Julia, Mr. Merton. No 
ideals were shattered, the young men being unaware 
of the circumstances. They might forget her ' 

* Impossible,' cried Merton. 

'They might forget her, or, perhaps they ' 

Miss Crofton hesitated. 

' Perhaps they might never ? ' asked Merton. 

'Yes/ said Miss Crofton; 'perhaps they might 
not That would be all to the good for the Church ; 
no ideals would be shattered — the reverse — and 
dear Julia would ' 

* Cherish their pious memories,' said Merton. 

' I see that you understand me,' said Miss Crofton. 

Merton did understand, and he was reminded of the 
wicked lady, who, when tired of her lovers, had them 
put into a sack, and dropped into the Seine. 

' But,' he asked, ' has this ingenious system failed 



rS THE DISENTANGLERS 

to work? I should suppose that each young man, 
on distant and on deadly shores, was far from causing 
inconvenience/ 

' The defect of the system/ said Miss Crofton, ' is 
that none of them has gone, or seems in a hurry to go. 
The first — that was Mr. Bathe, Julia?' 

Julia nodded. 

* Mr. Bathe was to have gone to Turkey during the 
Armenian atrocities, and to have forced England to 
intervene by taking the Armenian side and getting 
massacred. Julia was intensely interested in the 
Armenians. But Mr. Bathe first said that he must 
lead Julia to the altar before he went ; and then the 
massacres fell off, and he remains at Cheltenham, and 
is very tiresome. And then there is Mr. Clancy, 
he was to go out to China, and denounce the gods of 
the heathen Chinese in the public streets. But he 
insisted that Julia should first be his, and he is at 
Leamington, and not a step has he taken to convert 
the Boxers.' 

Merton knew the name of Clancy. Clancy had 
been his fag at school, and Merton thought it ex- 
tremely improbable that the Martyr's crown would 
ever adorn his brow. 

' Then — and this is the last of them, of the clergy, 
at least — Mr. Brooke : he was to visit the New Heb- 
rides, where the natives are cannibals, and utterly un- 
awakened. He is as bad as the others. He won't 
go alone. Now, Julia is obliged to correspond with 
all of them in affectionate terms (she keeps well out 
of their way), and this course of what she feels to be 
duplicity is preying terribly on her conscience.' 



ADVENTURE OF THE OFFICE SCREEN 79 

Here Julia sobbed hysterically. 

* She is afraid, too, that by some accident, though 
none of them know each other, they may become 
aware of the state of aifairs, or Captain Lestrange, to 
whom she is passionately attached, may find it out, 
and then, not only may their ideals be wrecked, 
but ' 

' Yes, I see,' said Merton ; * it is awkward, very/ 
The interview, an early one, had lasted for some 
time. Merton felt that the hour of luncheon had 
arrived, and, after luncheon, it had been his intention 
to go up to the University match. He also knew, 
from various sounds, that clients were waiting in 
the ante-chamber. At this moment the door opened, 
and the office boy, entering, laid three cards before 
him. 

* The gentlemen asked when you could see them, 
sir. They have been waiting some time. They say 
that their appointment was at one o'clock, and they 
wish to go back to Lord's.' 

' So do I,' thought Merton sadly. He looked at the 
cards, repressed a whistle, and handed them silently 
to Miss Crofton, bidding the boy go, and return in 
three minutes. 

Miss Crofton uttered a little shriek, and pressed the 
cards on Julia's attention. Raising her veil, Julia 
scanned them, wrung her hands, and displayed symp- 
toms of a tendency to faint. The cards bore the 
names of the Rev. Mr. Bathe, the Rev. Mr. Brooke, 
and the Rev. Mr. Clancy. 

'What is to be done?' asked Miss Crofton in a 
whisper. * Can't you send them away? ' 



So THE DISENTANGLERS 

' Impossible/ said Merton firmly. 

* If we go out they will know me, and suspect 
Julia.' 

Miss Crofton looked round the room with eyes of 
desperate scrutiny. They at once fell on a large old- 
fashioned screen, covered with engravings, which 
Merton had picked up for the sake of two or three 
old mezzotints, barbarously pasted on to this article 
of furniture by some ignorant owner. 

' Saved ! we are saved ! Hist, Julia, hither ! * said 
Miss Crofton in a stage whisper. And while Merton 
murmured * Highly unprofessional,' the skirts of the 
two ladies vanished behind the screen. 

Miss Crofton had not played Lady Teazle for 
nothing. 

' Ask the gentlemen to come in,' said Merton, when 
the boy returned. 

They entered: three fair young curates, nervous 
and inclined to giggle. Shades of difference of 
ecclesiastical opinion declared themselves in their 
hats, costume, and jewellery. 

' Be seated, gentlemen,* said Merton, and they sat 
down on three chairs, in identical attitudes. 

* We hope,' said the man on the left, ' that we are 
not here inconveniently. We would have waited, but, 
you see, we have all come up for the match.' 

* How is it going? ' asked Merton anxiously. 
'Cambridge four wickets down for 115, but * 

and the young man stared, * it must be, it is Pussy 
Merton ! ' 

* And you, Clancy Minor, why are you not con- 
verting the Heathen Chinee? You deserve a death 
of torture.' 




The Ladies ovcrhe:ir the Curnles 



ADVENTURE OF THE OFFICE SCREEN 8i 

'Goodness! How do you know that?* asked 
Clancy. 

* I know many things/ answered Merton. ' I am 
not sure which of you is Mr. Bathe.' 

Clancy presented Mr. Bathe, a florid young evan- 
gelist, who blushed. 

'Armenia is still suffering, Mr. Bathe; and Mr. 
Brooke,' said Merton, detecting him by the Method 
of Residues, 'the oven is still hot in the New 
Hebrides. What have you got to say for your- 
selves?' 

The curates shifted nervously on their chairs. 

' We see, Merton,' said Clancy, ' that you know a 
good deal which we did not know ourselves till lately. 
In fact, we did not know each other till the Church 
Congress at Leamington. Then the other men came 
to tea at my rooms, and saw ' 

' A portrait of a lady ; each of you possessed a 
similar portrait,' said Merton. 

* How the dev — I mean, how do you know that? ' 
' By a simple deductive process,' said Merton. 

'There were also letters,' he said. Here a gurgle 
from behind the screen was audible to Merton. 

' We did not read each others* letters,' said Clancy, 
blushing. 

' Of course not,* said Merton. 

' But the handwriting on the envelopes was iden- 
tical,* Clancy went on. 

' Well, and what can our Society do for you?' 

' Why, we saw your advertisements, never guessed 

they were yours^ of course, Pussy, and — none of us is 

a man of the world * 

6 



82 THE DISENTANGLERS 

* I congratulate you/ said Merton. 

' So we thought we had better take advice : it 
seemed rather a lark, too, don't you know? The 
fact is — you appear to have divined it somehow — 
we find that we are all engaged to the same lady. 
We can't fight, and we can't all marry her.' 

* In Thibet it might be practicable : martyrdom 
might also be secured there,' said Merton. 

' Martyrdom is not good enough,' said Clancy. 
' Not half,' said Bathe. 

'A man has his duties in his own country,' said 
Brooke. 

* May I ask whether in fact your sorrows at this 
discovery have been intense ? ' asked Merton. 

* I was a good deal cut up at first,' said Clancy, ' I 
being the latest recruit. Bathe had practically given 
up hope, and had seen some one else.' Mr. Bathe 
drooped his head, and blushed. ' Brooke laughed. 
Indeed we ail laughed, though we felt rather foolish. 
But what are we to do? Should we write her a 
Round Robin? Bathe says he ought to be the man, 
because he was first man in, and I say / ought to be 
the man, because I am not out.' 

' I would not build much on iAat,* said Merton, 
and he was sure that he heard a rustle behind the 
screen, and a slight struggle. Julia was trying to 
emerge, restrained by Miss Crofton. 

* I knew,' said Clancy, * that there was something — 
that there were other fellows. But that I learned, 
more or less, under the seal of confession, so to 
speak. ' 

' At a picnic,* said Merton. 



ADVENTURE OF THE OFFICE SCREEN 83 

At this moment the screen fell with a crash, and 
Julia emerged, her eyes blazing, while Miss Crofton 
followed, her hat somewhat crushed by the falling 
screen. The three young men in Holy Orders, all af 
them desirable young n\en, arose to their feet, trem- 
bling visibly. 

* Apostates ! ' cried Julia, who had by far the best 
of the dramatic situation and pressed her advantage. 
' Recreants ! was it for such as you that I pointed 
to the crown of martyrdom ? Was it for your shat- 
tered ideals that I have wept many a night on Serena's 
faithful breast?' She pointed to Miss Crofton, who 
enfolded her in an embrace. ' You ! ' Julia went on, 
aiming at them the finger of conviction. ' I am but a 
woman, weak I may have been, wavering I may have 
been, but I took you for men ! I chose you to dare, 
perhaps to perish, for a Cause. But now, triilers that 
you are, boys, mere boys, back with you to your 
silly games, back to the thoughtless throng. I have 
done.' 

Julia, attended by Miss Crofton, swept from the 
chamber, under her indignation (which was quite as 
real as any of her other emotions) the happiest 
woman in London. She had no more occasion 
for remorse, no ideals had she sensibly injured. 
Her entanglements were disentangled. She inhaled 
the fragrance of orange blossoms from afar, and 
heard the marriage music in the chapel of the 
Guards. Meanwhile the three curates and Merton 
felt as if they had been whipped. 

* Trust a woman to have the best of it,' muttered 
Merton admiringly. * And now, Clancy, may I offer 



84 THE DISENTANGLERS 

a hasty luncheon to you and your friends before we 
go to Lord's? Your business has been rather rapidly 
despatched.' 

The conversation at luncheon turned exclusively 
on cricket. 



VI 

A LOVER IN COCKY 

IT cannot be said that the bearers of the noblest 
names in the land flocked at flrst to the oflices of 
Messrs. Gray and Graham. In fact the reverse, in the 
beginning, was the case. Members even of the more 
learned professions held aloof: indeed barristers and 
physicians never became eager clients. On the other 
hand, Messrs. Gray and Graham received many letters 
in such handwritings, such grammar, and such or- 
thography, that they burned them without replying. 
A common sort of case was that of the young farmer 
whose widowed mother had set her heart on marriage 
with ' a bonny labouring boy,' a ploughman. 

' We can do nothing with these people,' Merton 
remarked. * We can't send down a young and ele- 
gant friend of ours to distract the affections of an 
elderly female agriculturist. The bonny labouring 
boy would punch the fashionable head; or, at all 
events, would prove much more attractive to the 
widow than our agent. 

'Then there are the members of the Hebrew com- 
munity. They hate mixed marriages, and quite right 
too. I deeply sympathise. But if Leah has let her 
affections loose on young Timmins, an Anglo-Saxon 
and a Christian, what can we do? How stop the 



S6 THE DISENTANGLERS 

misalliance? We have not, in our little regiment, 
one fair Hebrew boy to smile away her maiden 
blame among the Hebrew mothers of Maida Vale, 
and to cut out Timmins. And of course it is as bad 
with the men. If young Isaacs wants to marry Miss 
Julia Timmins, I have no Rebecca to slip at him. 
The Semitic demand, though large and perhaps lu- 
crative, cannot be met out of a purely Aryan supply/ 

Business was pretty slack, and so Merton rather 
rejoiced over the application of a Mrs. Nicholson, 
from The Laburnums, Walton-on-Dove, Derbyshire. 
Mrs. Nicholson's name was not in Burke's ' Landed 
Gentry,' and The Laburnums could hardly be esti- 
mated as one of the stately homes of England. Still, 
the lady was granted an interview. She was what the 
Scots call ' a buddy ; ' that is, she was large, round, 
attired in black, between two ages, and not easily to 
be distinguished, by an unobservant eye, from bud- 
dies as a class. After greetings, and when enthroned 
in the client's chair, Mrs. Nicholson stated her case 
with simplicity and directness. 

' It is my ward,' she said, * Barbara Monypenny. I 
must tell you that she was left in my charge till she 
is twenty-six. I and her lawyers make her an allow- 
ance out of her property, which she is to get when 
she marries with my consent, at whatever age.' 

' May I ask how old the lady is at present ? ' said 
Merton. 

' She is twenty-two.' 

' Your kindness in taking charge of her is not 

not wholly uncompensated?' 

' No, an allowance is made to me out of the estate.' 



A LOVER IN COCKY 87 

' An allowance which ends on her marriage, if she 
marries with your consent? ' 

' Yes, it ends then. Her uncle trusted me a deal 
more than he trusted Barbara. She was strange from 
a child. Fond of the men/ as if that were an unusual 
and unbecoming form of philanthropy. 

' I see, and she being an heiress, the testator was 
anxious to protect her youth and innocence?' 

Mrs. Nicholson merely sniffed, but the sniff was 
affirmative, though sarcastic. 

' Her property, I suppose, is considerable? I do 
not ask from impertinent curiosity, nor for exact 
figures. But, as a question of business, may we call 
the fortune considerable ? ' 

' Most people do. It runs into six figures.' 

Merton, who had no mathematical head, scribbled 
on a piece of paper. The result of his calculations 
(which I, not without some fever of the brow, have 
personally verified) proved that ' six figures ' might be 
anything between 100,000/. and 999,000/. 19s. ii}^. 

'Certainly it is very considerable,' Merton said, 
after a few minutes passed in arithmetical calculation. 
' Am I too curious if I ask what is the source of this 
opulence?* 

'"Wilton's Panmedicon, or Heal All," a patent 
medicine. He sold the patent and retired.' 

Merton shuddered. 

' It would be Pammedicum if it could be anything,' 
he thought, ' but it can't, linguistically speaking.' 

' Invaluable as a subterfuge,' said Mrs. Nicholson, 
obviously with an indistinct recollection of the adver- 
tisement and of the properties of the drug. 



SS THE DISENTANGLERS 

Merton construed the word as ' febrifuge/ silently, 
and asked : ' Have you taken the young lady much 
into society : has she had many opportunities of mak- 
ing a choice? You are dissatisfied with the choice, 
I understand, which she has made ? ' 

* I don't let her see anybody if I can help it. Fire 
and powder are better kept apart, and she is powder, 
a minx ! Only a fisher or two comes to the Perch, 
that 's the inn at Walton-on-Dove, and tAey are mostly 
old gentlemen, pottering with their rods and things. 
If a young man comes to the inn, I take care to 
trapes after her through the nasty damp meadows.' 

' Is the young lady an angler? ' 

' She is — most unwomanly I call it' 

Merton's idea of the young lady rose many degrees. 
' You said the young lady was '' strange from a child, 
very strange. Fond of the men." Happily for our 
seXy and for the world, it is not so very strange or 
unusual to take pity on us.' 

* She has always been queer.' 

* You do not hint at any cerebral disequilibrium ? ' 
asked Merton. 

' Would you mind saying that again ? ' asked Mrs. 
Nicholson. 

' I meant nothing wrong Aeref * Merton said, laying 
his finger on his brow. 

' No, not so bad as that,' said Mrs. Nicholson ; ' but 
just queer. Uncommon. Tells odd stories about — 
nonsense. She is wearing with her dreams. She 
reads books on, I don't know how to call it — Tipsy- 
cake, Tipsicakical Search. Histories, /call it' 

* Yes, I understand/ said Merton ; ' Psychical 
Research/ 



A LOVER IN COCKY 89 

* That 's it, and Hyptonism/ said Mrs. Nicholson, as 
many ladies do. 

*Ah, Hyptonism, so called from its founder, 
Hypton, the eminent Anglo-French chemist ; he was 
burned at Rome, one of the latest victims of the 
Inquisition,' said Merton. 

* I don't hold with Popery, sir, but it served him 
right; 

' That is all the queerness then ! ' 

* That and general discontentedness.* 

' Girls will be girls,' said Merton ; * she wants 
society.' 

* Want must be her master then,' said Mrs. Nichol- 
son stolidly. 

' But about the man of her choice, have you any- 
thing against him? ' 

* No, but nothing yi?r him : I never even saw him.* 
'Then where did Miss Monypenny make his 

acquaintance? ' 

* Well, like a fool, I let her go to pass Christmas 
with some distant cousins of my own, who should 
have known better. They stupidly took her to a 
dance, at Tutbury, and there she met him : just that 
once.' 

* And they became engaged on so short an ac- 
quaintance?' 

' Not exactly that. She was not engaged when 
she came home, and did not seem to mean to be. 
She did talk of him a lot He had got round her 
finely : told her that he was going out to the war, and 
that they were sister spirits. He had dreamed of 
meeting her, he said, and that was why he came to 



90 THE DISENTANGLERS 

the ball, for he did not dance. He said he believed 
they had met in a state of pre — something ; meaning, 
if you understand me, before they were born, which 
could not be the case : she not being a twin, still less 
his twin.' 

' That would be the only way of accounting for it, 
certainly,' said Merton. 'But what followed? Did 
they correspond ? ' 

* He wrote to her, but she showed me the letter, 
and put it in the fire unopened. He had written 
his name, Marmaduke Ingles, on a corner of the 
envelope.* 

* So far her conduct seems correct, even austere,' 
said Merton. 

* It was at first, but then he wrote from South 
Africa, where he volunteered as a doctor. He was 
a doctor at Tutbury.' 

* She opened that letter?' 

* Yes, and showed it to me. He kept on with his 
nonsense, asking her never to forget him, and send- 
ing his photograph in cocky.' 

' Pardon ! ' said Merton. 

'In uniform. And if he fell, she would see his 
ghost, in cocky, crossing her room, he said. In fact 
he knew how to get round the foolish girl. I believe 
he went out there just to make himself interesting.' 

' Did you try to find out what sort of character he 
had at home ? ' 

* Yes, there was no harm in it, only he had no busi- 
ness to speak of, everybody goes to Dr. Young- 
husband.' 

* Then, really, if he is an honest young man, as he 



A LOVER IN COCKY 91 

seems to be a patriotic fellow, are you certain that 
you are wise in objecting?* 

* I do object/ said Mrs. Nicholson, and indeed her 
motives for refusing her consent were only too 
obvious. 

*Are they quite definitely engaged ? ' asked Merton. 

*Yes they are now, by letter, and she says she 
will wait for him till I die, or she is twenty-six, if I 
don't give my consent. He writes every mail, from 
places with outlandish names, in Africa. And she 
keeps looking in a glass ball, like the labourers' 
women, some of them; she's sunk as low as that; 
so superstitious ; and sometimes she tells me that she 
sees what he is doing, and where he is; and now 
and then, when his letters come, she shows me bits 
of them, to prove she was right. But just as often 
she 's wrong ; only she won't listen to me. She says 
it 's Telly, Tellyopathy. I say it 's flat nonsense.' 

* I quite agree with you,' said Merton, with con- 
viction. ' After all, though, honest, as far as you 
hear. . . .* 

* Oh yes, honest enough, but that *s all,' interrupted 
Mrs. Nicholson, with a hearty sneer. 

* Though he bears a good character, from what you 
tell me he seems to be a very silly young man.' 

* Silly Johnny to silly Jenny,' put in Mrs. Nichol- 
son. 

' A pair with ideas so absurd could not possibly be 
happy.' Merton reasoned. 'Why don't you take 
her into the world, and show her life? With her 
fortune and with you to take her about, she would 
soon forget this egregiously foolish romance.' 



92 THE DISENTANGLERS 

' And me to have her snapped up by some whip- 
per-snapper that calls himself a lord ? Not me, Mr. 
Graham/ said Mrs. Nicholson. * The money that 
her uncle made by the Panmedicon is not going 
to be spent on horses, and worse, if I can help 
it.' 

* Then,' said Merton, * all I can do for you is by 
our ordinary method — to throw some young man 
of worth and education in the way of your ward, and 
attempt to — divert her affections.' 

* And have him carry her off under my very nose ? 
Not much, Mr. Graham. Why where do / come in, 
in this pretty plan ? ' 

' Do not suppose me to suggest anything so — 
detrimental to your interests, Mrs. Nicholson. Is 
your ward beautiful ? ' 

' A toad ! ' said Mrs. Nicholson with emphasis. 

* Very well. There is no danger. The gentleman 
of whom I speak is betrothed to one of the most 
beautiful girls in England. They are deeply at- 
tached, and their marriage is only deferred for pru- 
dential reasons.' 

' I don't trust one of them,' said Mrs. Nicholson. 

' Very well, madam,' answered Merton severely ; ' I 
have done all that experience can suggest. The 
gentleman of whom I speak has paid especial atten- 
tion to the mental delusions under which your ward 
is labouring, and has been successful in removing 
them in some cases. But as you reject my sugges- 
tion ' — he rose, so did Mrs. Nicholson — * I have the 
honour of wishing you a pleasant journey back to 
Derbyshire.' 



A LOVER IN COCKY 93 

* A bullet may hit him/ said Mrs. Nicholson with 
much acerbity. * That 's my best hope.' 

Then Merton bowed her out. 

'The old woman will never let the girl marry any- 
body, except some adventurer, who squares her by 
giving her the full value of her allowance out of the 
estate,' thought Merton, adding ' I wonder how much 
it is ! Six figures is anything between a hundred 
thousand and a million ! ' 

The man he had thought of sending down to divert 
Miss Monypenny's affections from the young doctor 
was Jephson, the History coach, at that hour waiting 
for a professorship to enable him to marry Miss 
Willoughby. 

However, he dismissed Mrs. Nicholson and her 
ward from his mind. About a fortnight later Merton 
received a letter directed in an uneducated hand. 
* Another of the agricultural classes,' he thought, 
but, looking at the close of the epistle, he saw the 
name of Eliza Nicholson. She wrote: 

' Sir, — Barbara has been at her glass ball, and seen him 
being carried on board a ship. If she is right, and she is 
not always wrong, he is on his way home. Though I will 
never give my consent, this spells botheration for me. You 
can send down your young man that cures by teleopathy, a 
thing that has come up since my time. He can stay at the 
Perch, and take a fishing rod, then they are safe to meet. 
I trust him no more than the rest, but she may fall between 
two stools, if the doctor does come home. 

'Your obedient servant, 

'Eliza Nicholson.* 



94 THE DISENTANGLERS 

' Merely to keep one's hand in/ thought Merton, 
' in the present disappointing slackness of business, 
I'll try to see Jephson. I don't like or trust him. 
I don't think he is the man for Miss Willoughby. 
So, if he ousts the doctor, and catches the heiress, 
why " there was more lost at Shirramuir," as Logan 
says.' 

Merton managed to go up to Oxford, and called on 
Jephson. He found him anxious about a good, quiet, 
cheap place for study. 

'Do you fish?* asked Merton. 

' When I get the chance,' said Jephson. 

He was a dark, rather clumsy, but not unprepossess- 
ing young don, with a very slight squint. 

' If you fish did you ever try the Perch — I mean 
an inn, not the fish of the same name — at Walton- 
on-Dove? A pretty quiet place, two miles of water, 
local history perhaps interesting. It is not very far 
from Tutbury, where Queen Mary was kept, I 
think.' 

'It sounds well,' said Jephson; 'I'll write to the 
landlord and ask about terms.' 

' You could not do better,' said Merton, and he took 
his leave. 

' Now, am I,' thought Merton as he walked down 
the Broad, ' to put Jephson up to it? If I don't, of 
course I can't " reap the benefit of one single pin " 
for the Society : Jephson not being a member. But 
the money, anyhow, would come from that old harpy 
out of the girl's estate. Olet! I don't like the fra- 
grance of that kind of cash. But if the girl really 
is plain, "a toad," nothing may happen. On the 



A LOVER IN COCKY 95 

other hand, Jephson is sure to hear about her position 
from local gossip — that she is rich, and so on. Per- 
haps she is not so very plain. They are sure to meet, 
or Mrs. Nicholson will bring them together in her 
tactful way. She has not much time to lose if the 
girl's glass ball yarn is true, and it may be true by a 
fluke. Jephson is rather bitten by a taste for all that 
" teleopathy " business, as the old Malaprop calls it. 
On the whole, I shall say no more to him, but let 
him play the game, if he goes to Walton, off his own 
bat.' 

Presently Merton received a note from Jephson 
dated 'The Perch, Walton-on-Dove.' Jephson ex- 
pressed his gratitude; the place suited his purpose 
very well. He had taken a brace and a half of trout, 
* bordering on two pounds ' (* one and a quarter,' 
thought Merton). * And, what won't interest you^ 
his letter said, ' I have run across a curiously interest- 
ing subject, what^'^w would call hysterical. But what, 
after all, is hysteria? ' &c., &c. 

' V affaire est dans le sac! ' said Merton to himself. 
' Jephson and Miss Monypenny have met ! ' 

Weeks passed, and one day, on arriving at the 
office, Merton found Miss Willoughby there awaiting 
his arrival. She was the handsome Miss Willoughby, 
Jephson's betrothed, a learned young lady who 
lived but poorly by verifying references and making 
researches at the Record Office. 

Merton at once had a surmise, nor was it mistaken. 
The usual greetings had scarcely passed, when the 
girl, with cheeks on Are and eyes aflame, said : 

' Mr. Merton, do you remember a question, rather 



96 THE DISENTANGLERS 

unconventional, which you put to me at the dinner 
party you and Mr. Logan gave at the restaurant?' 

' I ought not to have said it/ said Merton, ' but 
then it was an unconventional gathering. I asked if 
you ' 



' Your words were " Had I a spark of the devil in 
me ? " Well, I have ! Can I ' 

'Turn it to any purpose? You can. Miss Wil- 
loughby, and I shall have the honour to lay the 
method before you, of course only for your con- 
sideration, and under seal of secrecy. Indeed 
I was just about to write to you asking for an 
interview.' 

Merton then laid the circumstances in which he 
wanted Miss Willoughby's aid before her, but these 
must be reserved for the present. She listened, was 
surprised, was clearly ready for more desperate ad- 
ventures ; she came into his views, and departed. 

* Jephson has played the game off his own bat — and 
won it,* thought Merton to himself. * What a very 
abject the fellow is ! But, after all, I have disentan- 
gled Miss Willoughby ; she was infinitely too good 
for the man, with his squint.' 

As Merton indulged in these rather Pharisaical 
reflections, Mrs. Nicholson was announced. Merton 
greeted her, and gave orders that no other client was 
to be admitted. He was himself rather nervous. 
Was Mrs. Nicholson in a rage? No, her eyes beamed 
friendly ; geniality clothed her brow. 

* He has squared her,* thought Merton. 

Indeed, the lady had warmly grasped his hand with 
both of her own, which were imprisoned in tight new 



A LOVER IN COCKY 97 

gloves, while her bonnet spoke of regardlessness of 
expense and recent prodigality. She fell back into 
the client's chair. 

* Oh, sir,' she said, 'when first we met we did not 
part, or / did not^ — you were quite the gentleman — 
on the best of terms. But now, how can I speak 
of your wise advice, and how much don't I owe 
you?* 

Merton answered very gravely : ' You do not owe 
me anything, Madam. Please understand that I 
took absolutely no professional steps in your affair.' 

* What? ' cried Mrs. Nicholson. ' You did not send 
down that blessed young man to the Perch?' 

' I merely suggested that the inn might suit a 
person whom I knew, who was looking for country 
quarters. Your name never crossed my lips, nor 
a word about the business on which you did me the 
honour to consult me.' 

' Then I owe you nothing ? ' 

* Nothing at all.' 

' Well, I do call this providential,' said Mrs. 
Nicholson, with devout enthusiasm. 

* You are not in my debt to the extent of a 
farthing, but if you think I have accidentally 
been * 

* An instrument?* said Mrs. Nicholson. 

' Well, an unconscious instrument, perhaps you 
can at least tell me why you think so. What has 
happened ? ' 

* You really don't know? ' 

' I only know that you are pleased, and that your 
anxieties seem to be relieved.' 

7 



98 THE DISENTANGLERS 

'Why, he saved her from being burned, and the 
brave/ said Mrs. Nicholson, ' deserve the fair, not that 
stu is a beauty.' 

' Do tell me all that happened/ 

'And tell you I can, for that precious young man 
took me into his confidence. First, when I heard that 
he had come to the Perch, I trampled about the damp 
river-side with Barbara, and sure enough they met, he 
being on the Perch's side of the fence, and Barbara's 
line being caught high up in a tree on ours, as often 
happens. Well, I asked him to come over the fence 
and help her to get her line clear, which he did very 
civilly, and then he showed her how to fish, and then 
I asked him to tea and left them alone a bit, and 
when I came back they were talking about teleopathy, 
and her glass ball, and all that nonsense. And he 
seemed interested, but not to believe in it quite. I 
could not understand half their tipsycakical lingo. 
So of course they often met again at the river, and 
he often came to tea, and she seemed to take to 
him — she was always one for the men. And at 
last a very queer thing happened, and gave him 
his chance. 

* It was a very hot day in July, and she fell asleep 
on a seat under a tree with her glass ball in her lap ; 
she had been staring at it, I suppose. Any way she 
slept on, till the sun went round and shone full on the 
ball ; and just as he, Mr. Jephson, that is, came into 
the gate, the glass ball began to act like a burning 
glass and her skirt began to smoke. Well, he waited 
a bit, I think, till the skirt blazed a little, and then he 
rushed up and threw his coat over her skirt, and put 



A LOVER IN COCKY 99 

the fire out. And so he saved her from being a 
Molochaust, like you read about in the bible.' 

Merton mentally disengaged the word 'Molo- 
chaust ' into ' Moloch ' and * holocaust.' 

*And there she was, when I happened to come 
by, a-crying and carrying on, with her head on his 
shoulder.* 

' A pleasing group, and so they were engaged on 
the spot?' asked Merton. 

*Not she! She held off, and thanked her pre- 
server ; but she would be true, she said, to her lover 
in cocky. But before that Mr. Jephson had taken me 
into his confidence.' 

' And you made no objection to his winning your 
ward, if he could ? ' 

' No, sir, I could trust that young man : I could trust 
him with Barbara.' 

' His arguments,' said Merton, ' must have been 
very cogent?' 

' He understood my situation if she married, and 
what I deserved,' said Mrs. Nicholson, growing rather 
uncomfortable, and fidgeting in the client's chair. 

Merton, too, understood, and knew what the sym- 
pathetic arguments of Jephson must have been. 

' And, after all,' Merton asked, ' the lover has pros- 
pered in his suit? ' 

* This is how he got round her. He said to me that 
night, in private : " Mrs. Nicholson," said he, " your 
niece is a very interesting historical subject. I am 
deeply anxious, apart from my own passion for her, 
to relieve her from a singular but not very uncommon 
delusion." 



t (( 
< it 
( it 



loo THE DISENTANGLERS 

* " Meaning her lover in cocky," I said. 
There is no lover in cocky," says he. 
No Dr. Ingles ! " said I. 

Yes, there is a Dr. Ingles, but he is not her 
lover, and your niece never met him. I bicycled to 
Tutbury lately, and, after examining the scene of 
Queen Mary's captivity, I made a few inquiries. 
What I had always suspected proved to be true. 
Dr. Ingles was not present at that ball at the Bear 
at Tutbury." 

• Well,' Mrs. Nicholson went on, * you might have 
knocked me down with a feather ! I had never asked 
my second cousins the question, not wanting them to 
guess about my affairs. But down I sat, and wrote to 
Maria, and got her answer. Barbara never saw Dr. 
Ingles ! only heard the girls mention him, and his 
going to the war. And then, after that, by Mr. 
Jephson's advice, I went and gave Barbara my mind. 
She should marry Mr. Jephson, who saved her life, 
or be the laughing stock of the country. I showed 
her up to herself, with her glass ball, and her tele- 
opathy, and her sham love-letters, that she wrote 
herself, and all her humbug. She cried, and she 
fainted, and she carried on, but I went at her when- 
ever she could listen to reason. So she said " Yes," 
and I am the happy woman.' 

'And Mr. Jephson is to be congratulated on so 
sensible and veracious a bride,' said Merton. 

' Oh, he says it is by no means an uncommon case, 
and that he has effected a complete cure, and they 
will be as happy as idiots,' said Mrs. Nicholson, as 
she rose to depart. 



A LOVER IN COCKY loi 

She left Merton pensive, and not disposed to over- 
rate human nature. ' But there can't be many fellows 
like Jephson/ he said. ' I wonder how much the six 
figures run to ? ' But that question was never answered 
to his satisfaction. 



VII 

THE ADVENTURE OF THE EXEMPLARY EARL 

/. The EarVs Long-Lost Cousin 

A JILT in time saves nine/ says the proverbial 
wisdom of our forefathers, adding, * One jilt 
makes many/ In the last chapter of the book of this 
chronicle, we told how the mercenary Mr. Jephson 
proved false to the beautiful Miss Willoughby, who 
supported existence by her skill in deciphering and 
transcribing the manuscript records of the past. We 
described the consequent visit of Miss Willoughby to 
the office of the Disentanglers, and how she reminded 
Merton that he had asked her once ' if she had a 
spark of the devil in her/ She had that morning 
received, in fact, a letter, crawling but expb'cit, from 
the unworthy Jephson, her lover. Retired, he said, 
to the rural loneliness of Derbyshire, he had read in 
his own heart, and what he there deciphered con- 
vinced him that, as a man of honour, he had but one 
course before him: he must free Miss Willoughby 
from her engagement. The lady was one of those 
who suffer in silence. She made no moan, and no 
reply to Jephson's letter ; but she did visit Merton, 
and, practically, gave him to understand that she was 
ready to start as a Corsair on the seas of amorous 
adventure. She had nailed the black flag to the 



ADVENTURE OF THE EXEMPLARY EARL 103 

mast : unhappy herself, she was apt to have no mercy 
on the sentiments and afTections of others. 

Merton, as it chanced, had occasion for the ser- 
vices of a lady in this mood ; a lady at once attractive, 
and steely-hearted ; resolute to revenge, on the whole 
of the opposite sex, the baseness of a Fellow of his 
College. Such is the frenzy of an injured love — 
illogical indeed (for we are not responsible for the 
errors of isolated members of our sex), but primitive, 
natural to women, and even to some men, in Miss 
Willoughby's position. 

The occasion for such services as she would per- 
form was provided by a noble client who, on visiting 
the office, had found Merton out and Logan in at- 
tendance. The visitor was the Earl of Embleton, of 
the North. Entering the rooms, he fumbled with the 
string of his eyeglass, and, after capturing it, looked 
at Logan with an air of some bewilderment. He was 
a tall, erect, slim, and well-preserved patrician, with 
a manner really shy, though hasty critics interpreted 
it as arrogant. He was ' between two ages,' a very 
susceptible period in the history of the individual. 

' I think we have met before,' said the Earl to 
Logan. ' Your face is not unfamiliar to me.' 

' Yes,' said Logan, ' I have seen you at several 
places ; ' and he mumbled a number of names. 

* Ah, I remember now — at Lady Lochmaben's,' 
said Lord Embleton. ' You are, I think, a relation 
of hers. . . .' 

' A distant relation : my name is Logan.' 

' What, of the Restalrig family? ' said the Earl, with 
excitement. 



I04 THE DISENTANGLERS 

' A far-off kinsman of the Marquis/ said Logan, 
adding, * May I ask you to be seated?* 

' This is really very interesting to me — surprisingly 
interesting/ said the Earl. * What a strange coinci- 
dence ! How small the world is, how brief are the 
ages ! Our ancestors, Mr. Logan, were very intimate 
long ago/ 

* Indeed?' said Logan. 

'Yes. I would not speak of it to everybody; in 
fact, I have spoken of it to no one ; but recently, ex- 
amining some documents in my muniment-room, I 
made a discovery as interesting to me as it must be 
to you. Our ancestors three hundred years ago — 
in 1600, to be exact — were fellow conspirators/ 

* Ah, the old Gowrie game, to capture the King? ' 
asked Logan, who had once kidnapped a cat. 

His knowledge of history was mainly confined to 
that obscure and unexplained affair, in which his 
wicked old ancestor is thought to have had a 
hand. 

* That is it,* said the visitor — * the Gowrie mys- 
tery ! You may remember that an unknown person, 
a friend of your ancestor, was engaged ? * 

' Yes,' said Logan ; ' he was never identified. Was 
his name Harris ? ' 

The peer half rose to his feet, flushed a fine purple, 
twiddled the obsolete little grey tuft on his chin, and 
sat down again. 

' I think I said, Mr. Logan, that the hitherto un- 
identified associate of your ancestor was a member of 
my own family. Our name is not Harris — a name 
very honourably borne — our family name is Guevara. 



ADVENTURE OF THE EXEMPLARY EARL 105 

My ancestor was a cousin of the brave Lord Wil- 
loughby/ 

* Most interesting ! You must pardon me, but as 
nobody ever knew what you have just found out, you 
will excuse my ignorance/ said Logan, who, to be 

sure, had never heard of the brave Lord Willoughby. 

* It is I who ought to apologise,' said the visitor* 
* Your mention of the name of Harris appeared to me 
to indicate a frivolity as to matters of the past which, 
I must confess, is apt to make me occasionally forget 
myself. Noblesse oblige^ you know : we respect our- 
selves — in our progenitors.* 

* Unless he wants to prevent someone from marry- 
ing his great-grandmother, I wonder what he is doing 
with his Tales of a Grandfather here^ thought Logan, 
but he only smiled, and said, ' Assuredly — my own 
opinion. I wish I could respect my ancestor ! ' 

' The gentleman of whom I speak, the associate of 
your own distant progenitor, was the founder of our 
house, as far as mere titles are concerned. We were 
but squires of Northumbria, of ancient Celtic descent, 
before the time of Queen Elizabeth. My ancestor at 
that time * 

' Oh bother his pedigree ! * thought Logan. 

* was a young officer in the English garrison 

of Berwick, and he^ I And, was your ancestor's un- 
known correspondent. I am not skilled in reading old 
hands, and I am anxious to secure a trustworthy 
person — really trustworthy — to transcribe the manu- 
scripts which contain these exciting details.' 

Logan thought that the office of the Disentanglers 
was hardly the place to come to in search of an his- 



io6 THE DISENTANGLERS 

torical cop)nst. However, he remembered Miss 
Willoughby, and said that he knew a lady of great 
skill and industry, of good family too, upon whom 
his client might entirely depend. ' She is a Miss 
Willoughby/ he added. 

' Not one of the Willoughbys of the Wicket, a most 
worthy, though unfortunate house, nearly allied, as I 
told you, to my own, about three hundred years ago?' 
said the Earl. 

'Yes, she is a daughter of the last squire.' 

'Ruined in the modern race for wealth, like so 
many I ' exclaimed the peer, and he sat in silence, 
deeply moved; his lips formed a name familiar to 
Law Courts. 

'Excuse my emotion, Mr. Logan,* he went on. 
' I shall be happy to see and arrange with this lady, 
who, I trust will, as my cousin, accept my hospitality at 
Rookchester. I shall be deeply interested, as you, no 
doubt, will also be, in the result of her researches into 
an affair which so closely concerns both you and me.' 

He was silent again, musing deeply, while Logan 
marvelled more and more what his real original 
business might be. All this affair of the docu- 
ments and the muniment-room had arisen by the 
merest accident, and would not have arisen if the 
Earl had found Merton at home. The Earl obvi- 
ously had a difficulty in coming to the point: many 
clients had. To approach a total stranger on the 
most intimate domestic affairs (even if his ancestor 
and yours were in a big thing together three hundred 
years ago) is, to a sensitive patrician, no easy task. 
In fact, even members of the middle class were, as 
clients, occasionally affected by shyness. 



ADVENTURE OF THE EXEMPLARY EARL 107 

* Mr. Logan/ said the Earl, ' I am not a man of to- 
day. The cupidity of our age, the eagerness with 
which wealthy aliens are welcomed into our best 
houses and families, is to me, I may say, distasteful. 
Better that our coronets were dimmed than that they 
should be gilded with the gold eagles of Chicago or 
blazing with the diamonds of Kimberley. My feel- 
ings on this point are unusually — I do not think that 
they are unduly — acute.' 

Logan murmured assent. 

* I am poor,' said the Earl, with all the expansive- 
ness of the shy ; ' but I never held what is called a 
share in my life.* 

* It is long,' said Logan, with perfect truth, ' since 
anything of that sort was in my own possession. In 
that respect my 'scutcheon, so to speak, is without a 
stain.' 

' How fortunate I am to have fallen in with one of 
sentiments akin to my own, unusual as they are ! ' 
said the Earl. ' I am a widower,' he went on, ' and 
have but one son and one daughter.' 

* He is coming to business noWf* thought Logan. 

' The former, I fear, is as good almost as affianced 
— is certainly in peril of betrothal — to a lady against 
whom I have not a word to say, except that she is 

inordinately wealthy, the sole heiress of ' Here 

the Earl gasped, and was visibly affected. 'You may 
have heard, sir,' the patrician went on, ' of a commer- 
cial transaction of nature unfathomable to myself — 
I have not sought for information,' he waved his hand 
impatiently, ' a transaction called a Straddle ? ' 

Logan murmured that he was aware of the exist- 



xo8 THE DISENTANGLERS 

ence of the phrase, though unconscious of its pre- 
cise meaning. 

' The lady's wealth is based on a successful Strad- 
dle, operated by her only known male ancestor, in 
— Bristles — Hogs' Bristles and Lard,' said the Earl. 

' Miss Bangs ! ' exclaimed Logan, knowing the 
name, wealth, and the source of the wealth of the 
ruling Chicago heiress of the day. 

' I am to be understood to speak of Miss Bangs — 
as her name has been pronounced between us — with 
all the respect due to youth, beauty, and an amiable 
disposition,' said the peer ; ' but Bristles, Mr. Logan, 
Hogs' Bristles and Lard. And a Straddle ! ' 

'Lucky devil, Scremerston,' thought Logan, for 
Scremerston was the only son of Lord Embleton, 
and he, as it seemed, had secured that coveted prize 
of the youth of England, the heart of the opulent 
Miss Bangs. But Logan only sighed and stared at 
the wall as one who hears of an irremediable disaster. 

* If they really were betrothed,* said Lord Emble- 
ton, * I would have nothing to say or do in the way of 
terminating the connection, however unwelcome. A 
man's word is his word. It is in these circumstan- 
ces of doubt (when the fortunes of a house ancient, 
though titularly of mere Tudor nodUsse, hang in the 
balance) that, despairing of other help, I have come 
to you.' 

' But,' asked Logan, ' have things gone so very 
far? Is the disaster irremediable? I am acquainted 
with your son, Lord Scremerston; in fact, he was 
my fag at school. May I speak quite freely?' 

' Certainly ; you will oblige me.' 



ADVENTURE OF THE EXEMPLARY EARL 109 

* Well, by the candour of early friendship, Scremer- 
ston was called the Arcadian, an allusion to a certain 
tenderness of heart allied with — h'm — a rather 
confident and sanguine disposition. I think it may 
console you to reflect that perhaps he rather over- 
estimates his success with the admirable young lady 
of whom we spoke. You are not certain that she 
has accepted him?' 

'No,' said the Earl, obviously relieved. 'I am 
sure that he has not positively proposed to her. 
He knows my opinion: he is a dutiful son, but he 
did seem very confident — seemed to think that his 
honour was engaged.' 

' I think we may discount that a little,' said Logan, 
' and hope for the best* 

* I shall try to take that view,' said the Earl. * You 
console me infinitely, Mr. Logan.' 

Logan was about to speak again, when his client 
held up a gently deprecating hand. 

' That is not all, Mr. Logan. I have a daughter ' 

Logan chanced to be slightly acquainted with the 
daughter, Lady Alice Guevara, a very nice girl. 

' Is she attached to a South African Jew?' Logan 
thought. 

' In this case,' said the client, ' there is no want 
of blood ; Royal in origin, if it comes to that. To 
the House of Bourbon I have no objection, in itself, 
that would be idle affectation.' 

Logan gasped. 

Was this extraordinary man anxious to reject a 
lady 'multi-millionaire' for his son, and a crown 
of some sort or other for his daughter? 



no THE DISENTANGLERS 

* But the stain of ill-gotten gold — silver too — is 
ineffaceable/ 

' It really cannot be Bristles this time/ thought 
Logan. 

' And a dynasty based on the roulette-table, . . .' 

* Oh, the Prince of Scalastro ! ' cried Logan. 

* I see that you know the worst/ said the Earl. 
Logan knew the worst fairly well. The Prince of 

Scalastro owed a percentage of two or three thousand 
which Logan had dropped at the tables licensed in 
his principality. 

' To the Prince, personally, I bear no ill-will,' said 
the Earl. ' He is young, brave, scientific, accom- 
plished, and this unfortunate attachment began 
before he inherited his — h'm — dominions. I fear 
it is, on both sides, a deep and passionate sentiment 
And now, Mr. Logan, you know the full extent of 
my misfortunes : what course does your experience 
recommend? I am not a harsh father. Could I 
disinherit Scremerston, which I cannot, the loss 
would not be felt by him in the circumstances. As 
to my daughter * 

The peer rose and walked to the window. When 
he came back and resumed his seat, Logan turned 
on him a countenance of mournful sympathy. The 
Earl silently extended his hand, which Logan took. 
On few occasions had a strain more severe been 
placed on his gravity, but, unlike a celebrated diplo- 
matist, he ' could command his smile.' 

* Your case,' he said, * is one of the most singular, 
delicate, and distressing which I have met in the 
course of my experience. There is no objection 



ADVENTURE OF THE EXEMPLARY EARL iii 

to character, and poverty is not the impediment: 
the reverse. You will permit me, no doubt, to con- 
sult my partner, Mr. Merton; we have naturally no 
secrets between us, and he possesses a delicacy of 
touch and a power of insight which I can only 
regard with admiring envy. It was he who carried 
to a successful issue that difficult case in the family of 
the Sultan of Mingrelia (you will observe that I use 
a fictitious name). I can assure you. Lord Emble- 
ton, that polygamy presents problems almost insolu- 
ble ; problems of extreme delicacy — or indelicacy.' 

* I had not heard of that affair,' said the Earl. 
' Like Eumaeus in Homer and in Mr. Stephen 
Phillips, I dwell among the swine, and come rarely 
to the city.' 

' The matter never went beyond the inmost diplo- 
matic circles,' said^ Logan. 'The Sultan's favourite 
son, the Jam, or Crown Prince, of Mingrelia {Jam" 
real, they called him), loved four beautiful BoUa- 
chians, sisters — again I disguise the nationality.' 

' Sisters I ' exclaimed the peer ; * I have always 
given my vote against the Deceased Wife's Sister 
Bill; hvX four^ and all alive!' 

'The law of the Prophet, as you are aware, is 
not monogamous,' said Logan; 'and the Eastern 
races are not averse to connections which are repro- 
bated by our Western ideas. The real difficulty was 
that of religion. 

' Oh, why from the heretic girl of my soul 
Should I fly, to seek elsewhere an orthodox kiss ? * 

hummed Logan, rather to the surprise of Lord 
Embleton. He went on : 'It is not so much that 



113 THE DISENTANGLERS 

the Mingrelians object to mixed marriages in the 
matter of religion, but the Bollachians, being Chris- 
tians, do object, and have a horror of polygamy. 
It was a cruel affair. All four girls, and the Jamreal 
himself, were passionately attached to each other. 
It was known, too, that, for political reasons, the 
maidens had received a dispensation from the lead- 
ing Archimandrite, their metropolitan, to marry the 
proud Faynim. The Mingrelian Sultan is suzerain 
of Bollachia; his native subjects are addicted to 
massacring the Bollachians from religious motives, 
and the Bollachian Church (Nestorians, as you 
know) hoped that the four brides would convert 
the Jamreal to their creed, and so solve the Bolla- 
chian question. The end, they said, justified the 
means.' 

' Jesuitical,' said the Earl, shaking his head sadly. 

'That is what my friend and partner, Mr. Merton, 
thought,' said Logan, * when we were applied to by 
the Sultan. Merton displayed extraordinary tact 
and address. All was happily settled, the Sultan 
and the Jamreal were reconciled, the young ladies 
met other admirers, and learned that what they had 
taken for love was but a momentary infatuation.' 

The Earl sighed, * Renovare dolorem ! My family,' 
said he, * is, and has long been — ever since the 
Gunpowder Plot — firmly, if not passionately, at- 
tached to the Church of England. The Prince of 
Scalastro is a Catholic' 

' Had we a closer acquaintance with the parties 
concerned ! ' murmured Logan. 

'You must come and visit us at Rookchester/ said 



ADVENTURE OF THE EXEMPLARY EARL 113 

the EarL * In any case I am most anxious to know 
better one whose ancestor was so closely connected 
with my own. We shall examine my documents 
under the tuition of the lady you mentioned, Miss 
Willoughby, if she will accept the hospitality of 
a kinsman.' 

Logan murmured acquiescence, and again asked 
permission to consult Merton, which was granted. 
The Earl then shook hands and departed, obviously 
somewhat easier in his mind. 

This remarkable conversation was duly reported 
by Logan to Merton. 

* What are we to do next? ' asked Logan. 

'Why you can do nothing but reconnoitre. Go 
down to Rookchester. It is in Northumberland, on 
the Coquet — a pretty place, but there is no fishing 
just now. Then we must ask Lord Embleton to 
meet Miss Willoughby. The interview can be here: 
Miss Willoughby will arrive, chaperoned by Miss 
Blossom, after the Earl makes his appearance.' 

* That will do, as far as his bothering old manu- 
scripts are concerned; but how about the real 
business — the two undesirable marriages?' 

* We must first see how the land lies. I do not 
know any of the lovers. What sort of fellow is 
Scremerston ? * 

* Nothing remarkable about him — good, plucky, 
vain little fellow. I suppose he wants money, like 
the rest of the world : but his father won't let him 
be a director of anything, though he is in the House 
and his name would look well on a list' 

* So he wants to marry dollars?' 

8 



114 THE DISENT ANGLERS 

' I suppose he has no objection to them ; but have 
you seen Miss Bangs?' 

' I don't remember her/ said Merton. 

'Then you have not seen her. She is beautiful, by 
Jove ; and, I fancy, clever and nice, and gives herself 
no airs/ 

* And she has all that money, and yet the old 
gentleman objects ! ' 

' He can not stand the bristles and lard,' said 
Logan. 

* Then the Prince of Scalastro — him I have come 
across. You would never take him for a foreigner,' 
said Merton, bestowing on the Royal youth the 
highest compliment which an Englishman can pay, 
but adding, ' only he is too intelligent and knows too 
much/ 

' No ; there is nothing the matter with kim,* Logan 
admitted — 'nothing but happening to inherit a 
gambling establishment and the garden it stands in. 
He is a scientific character — a scientific soldier. I 
wish we had a few like him.' 

* Well, it is a hard case,' said Merton. * They all 
seem to be very good sort of people. And Lady 
Alice Guevara? I hardly know her at all ; but she is 
pretty enough — tall, yellow hair, brown eyes.' 

' And as good a girl as lives,' added Logan. ' Very 
religious, too.' 

* She won't change her creed ? * asked Merton. 
'She would go to the stake for it,' said Logan. 

'She is more likely to convert the Prince.' 

' That would be one difficulty out of the way/ said 
Merton. 'But the gambling establishment? There 



ADVENTURE OF THE EXEMPLARY EARL 115 

is the rub ! And the usual plan won't work. You 
are a captivating person, Logan, but I do not think 
that you could attract Lady Alice's affections and 
disentangle her in that way. Besides, the Prince 
would have you out. Then Miss Bangs' dollars, not 
to mention herself, must have too strong a hold on 
Scremerston. It really looks too hard a case for us 
on paper. You must go down and reconnoitre.' 

Logan agreed, and wrote asking Lord Embleton 
to come to the office, where he could see Miss 
Willoughby and arrange about her visit to him and 
his manuscripts. The young lady was invited to 
arrive rather later, bringing Miss Blossom as her 
companion. 

On the appointed day Logan and Merton awaited 
Lord Embleton. He entered with an air unwontedly 
buoyant, and was introduced to Merton. The first 
result was an access of shyness. The Earl hummed, 
began sentences, dropped them, and looked patheti- 
cally at Logan. Merton understood. The Earl had 
taken to Logan (on account of their hereditary 
partnership in an ancient iniquity), and it was obvious 
that he would say to him what he would not say to 
his partner. Merton therefore withdrew to the outer 
room (they had met in the inner), and the Earl de- 
livered himself to Logan in a little speech. 

* Since we met, Mr. Logan,' said he, * a very fortunate 
event has occurred. The Prince of Scalastro, in a 
private interview, has done me the honour to take 
me into his confidence. He asked my permission to 
pay his addresses to my daughter, and informed me 
that, finding his ownership of the gambling establish- 



ii6 THE DISENTANGLERS 

ment distasteful to her, he had determined not to 
renew the lease to the company. He added that 
since his boyhood, having been educated in Germany, 
he had entertained scruples about the position which 
he would one day occupy, that he had never entered 
the rooms (that haunt of vice), and that his acquaint- 
ance with my daughter had greatly increased his 
objections to gambling, though his scruples were 
not approved of by his confessor, a very learned 
priest.' 

' That is curious/ said Logan. 

' Very,' said the Earl. * But as I expect the Prince 
and his confessor at Rookchester, where I hope you 
will join us, we may perhaps find out the reasons 
which actuate that no doubt respectable person. In 
the meantime, as I would constrain nobody in matters 
of religion, I informed the Prince that he had my 
permission to — well, to plead his cause for himself 
with Lady Alice.' 

Logan warmly congratulated the Earl on the grati- 
fying resolve of the Prince, and privately wondered 
how the young people would support life, when 
deprived of the profits from the tables. 

It was manifest, however, from the buoyant air of 
the Earl, that this important question had never 
crossed his mind. He looked quite young in the 
gladness of his heart, ' he smelled April and May,' he 
was clad becomingly in summer raiment, and to 
Logan it was quite a pleasure to see such a happy 
man. Some fifteen years seemed to have been taken 
from the age of this buxom and simple-hearted 
patrician. 



ADVENTURE OF THE EXEMPLARY EARL 117 

He began to discuss with Logan all conceivable 
reasons why the Prince's director had rather dis- 
couraged his idea of closing the gambling-rooms for 
ever. 

'The Father, Father Riccoboni, is a Jesuit, Mr. 
Logan,' said the Earl gravely. * I would not be un- 
charitable, I hope I am not prejudiced, but members 
of that community, I fear, often prefer what they 
think the interests of their Church to those of our 
common Christianity. A portion of the great wealth 
of the Scalastros was annually devoted to masses for 
the souls of the players — about fifteen per cent, I 
believe — who yearly shoot themselves in the gardens 
of the establishment.' 

'No more suicides, no more subscriptions, I sup- 
pose,' said Logan ; ' but the practice proved that the 
reigning Princes of Scalastro had feeling hearts.' 

While the Earl developed this theme. Miss Wil- 
loughby, accompanied by Miss Blossom, had joined 
Merton in the outer room. Miss Blossom, being 
clad in white, with her blue eyes and apple-blossom 
complexion, looked like the month of May. But 
Merton could not but be struck by Miss Willoughby. 
She was tall and dark, with large grey eyes, a Greek 
profile, and a brow which could, on occasion, be 
thunderous and lowering, so that Miss Willoughby 
seemed to all a remarkably fine young woman; 
while the educated spectator was involuntarily re- 
minded of the beautiful sister of the beautiful 
Helen, the celebrated Clytemnestra. The young lady 
was clad in very dark blue, with orange points, 
so to speak, and compared with her transcendent 



1x8 THE DISENTANGLERS 

beauty, Miss Blossom, as Logan afterwards remarked, 
seemed a 

'Wee modest crimson-tippit beastie,' 

he intending to quote the poet Burns. 

After salutations, Merton remarked to Miss Blos- 
som that her well-known discretion might prompt 
her to take a seat near the window while he dis- 
cussed private business with Miss Willoughby. The 
good-humoured girl retired to contemplate life from 
the casement, while Merton rapidly laid the nature 
of Lord Embleton's affairs before the other lady. 

'You go down to Rookchester as a kinswoman 
and a guest, you understand, and to do the business 
of the manuscripts.* 

' Oh, I shall rather like that than otherwise,' said 
Miss Willoughby, smiling. 

'Then, as to the regular business of the Society, 
there is a Prince who seems to be thought unworthy 
of the daughter of the house ; and the son of the 
house needs disentangling from an American heiress 
of great charm and wealth.' 

' The tasks might satisfy any ambition,' said Miss 
Willoughby. ' Is the idea that the Prince and the 
Viscount should both neglect their former flames?' 

'And burn incense at the altar of Venus Verti- 
cordia,' said Merton, with a bow. 

'It is a large order,' replied Miss Willoughby, 
in the simple phrase of a commercial age : but as 
Merton looked at her, and remembered the vindic- 
tive feeling with which she now regarded his sex, 
he thought that she, if anyone, was capable of exe* 



ADVENTURE OF THE EXEMPLARY EARL 119 

cuting the commission. He was not, of course, 
as yet aware of the moral resolution lately arrived 
at by the young potentate of Scalastro. 

*The manuscripts are the first thing, of course,' 
he said, and, as he spoke, Logan and Lord Embleton 
re-entered the room. 

Merton presented the Earl to the ladies, and Miss 
Blossom soon retired to her own apartment, and 
wrestled with the correspondence of the Society and 
with her typewriting-machine. 

The Earl proved not to be nearly so shy where 
ladies were concerned. He had not expected to 
find in his remote and long-lost cousin. Miss Wil- 
loughby, a magnificent being like Persephone on 
a coin of Syracuse, but it was plain that he was 
prepossessed in her favour, and there was a touch 
of the affectionate in his courtesy. After congratu- 
lating himself on recovering a kinswoman of a long- 
separated branch of his family, and after a good deal 
of genealogical disquisition, he explained the nature 
of the lady's historical tasks, and engaged her to 
visit him in the country at an early date. Miss 
Willoughby then said farewell, having an engage- 
ment at the Record Office, where, as the Earl 
gallantly observed, she would ' make a sunshine in 
a shady place.' 

When she had gone, the Earl observed, ' Bon sang 
ne peut pas mentir! To think of that beautiful crea- 
ture condemned to waste her lovely eyes on faded 
ink and yellow papers I Why, she is, as the modern 
poet says, '' a sight to make an old man young."' 

He then asked Logan to acquaint Merton with 



I30 THE DISENTANGLERS 

the new and favourable aspect of his affairs, and, 
after fixing Logan's visit to Rookchester for the 
same date as Miss Willoughby's, he went off with 
a juvenile alertness. 

' I say/ said Logan, ' I don't know what will come 
of this, but something will come of it. I had no 
idea that girl was such a paragon.' 

' Take care, Logan,' said Merton. ' You ought 
only to have eyes for Miss Markham.' 

Miss Markham, the precise student may remember, 
was the lady once known as the Venus of Milo to 
her young companions at St. Ursula's. Now mantles 
were draped on her stately shoulders at Madame 
Claudine's, and Logan and she were somewhat hope- 
lessly attached to each other. 

' Take care of yourself at Rookchester,' Merton 
went on, ' or the Disentangler may be entangled.' 

' I am not a viscount and I am not an earl,' said 
Logan, with a reminiscence of an old popular song, 
^ nor I am not a prince, but a shade or two wuss ; 
and I think that Miss Willoughby will find other 
marks for the artillery of her eyes.' 

* We shall have news of it,' said Merton. 

//. The Affair of the Jesuit 

Trains do not stop at the little Rookchester station 
except when the high and puissant prince the Earl 
of Embleton or his visitors, or his ministers, servants, 
solicitors, and agents of all kinds, are bound for that 
haven. When Logan arrived at the station, a bow- 
ery, flowery, amateur-looking depot, like one of the 



ADVENTURE OF THE EXEMPLARY EARL 121 

' model villages ' that we sometimes see off the stage, 
be was met by the Earl, his son Lord Scremerston» 
and Miss Willoughby. Logan's baggage was spirited 
away by menials, who doubtless bore it to the house 
in some ordinary conveyance, and by the vulgar road. 
But Lord Embleton explained that as the evening 
was warm, and the woodland path by the river was 
cool, they had walked down to welcome the coming 
guest. 

The walk was beautiful indeed along the top of the 
precipitous red sandstone cliffs, with the deep, dark 
pools of the Coquet sleeping far below. Now and 
then a heron poised, or a rock pigeon flew by, be- 
tween the river and the cliff-top. The opposite bank 
was embowered in deep green wood, and the place was 
very refreshing after the torrid bricks and distressing 
odours of the July streets of London. 

The path was narrow : there was room for only two 
abreast. Miss Willoughby and Scremerston led the 
way, and were soon lost to sight by a turn in the 
path. As for Lord Embleton, he certainly seemed 
to have drunk of that fountain of youth about which 
the old French poet Pontus de Tyard reports to us, 
and to be going back, not forward, in age. He 
looked very neat, slim, and cool, but that could not 
be the only cause of the miracle of rejuvenescence. 
Closely regarding his host in profile, Logan remarked 
that he had shaved off his moustache and the little, 
obsolete, iron-grey chin-tuft which, in moments of 
perplexity, he had been wont to twiddle. Its loss 
was certainly a very great improvement to the clean- 
cut features of this patrician. 



122 THE DISENTANGLERS 

' We are a very small party/ said Lord Embleton^ 
'only the Prince, my daughter, Father Riccoboni, 
Miss Willoughby, my sister, Scremerston, and you 
and I. Miss Willoughby came last week. In the 
mornings she and I are busy with the manuscripts. 
We have found most interesting things. When their 
plot failed, your ancestor and mine prepared a ship 
to start for the Western seas and attack the treasure- 
ships of Spain. But peace broke out, and they never 
achieved that adventure. Miss Willoughby is a 
cousin well worth discovering, so intelligent, and so 
wonderfully attractive.' 

* So Scremerston seems to think,' was Logan's idea, 
for the further he and the Earl advanced, the less, if 
possible, they saw of the pair in front of them ; in- 
deed, neither was visible again till the party met 
before dinner. 

However, Logan only said that he had a great 
esteem for Miss Willoughby's courage and industry 
through the trying years of poverty since she left St. 
Ursula's. 

' The Prince we have not seen very much of,' said 
the Earl, ' as is natural ; for you will be glad to know 
that everything seems most happily arranged, except 
so far as the religious difficulty goes. As for Father 
Riccoboni, he is a quiet intelligent man, who passes 
most of his time in the library, but makes himself 
very agreeable at meals. And now here we are 
arrived/ 

They had reached the south side of the house — an 
eighteenth-century building in the red sandstone of 
the district, giving on a grassy terrace. There the 



ADVENTURE OF THE EXEMPLARY EARL 123 

host's maiden sister, Lady Mary Guevara, was seated 
by a tea-table, surrounded by dogs — two collies and 
an Aberdeenshire terrier. Beside her were Father 
Riccoboni, with a newspaper in his hand. Lady Alice, 
with whom Logan had already some acquaintance, 
and the Prince of Scalastro. Logan was presented, 
and took quiet notes of the assembly, while the usual 
chatter about the weather and his journey got itself 
transacted, and the view of the valley of the Coquet 
had justice done to its charms. 

Lady Mary was very like a feminine edition of the 
Earl, refined, shy, and with silvery hair. Lady Alice 
was a pretty, quiet type of the English girl who is not 
up to date, with a particularly happy and winning ex- 
pression. The Prince was of a Teutonic fairness ; for 
the Royal caste, whatever the nationality, is to a great 
extent made in Germany, and retains the physical 
characteristics of that ancient forest people whom the 
Roman historian (never having met them) so lovingly 
idealised. The Prince was tall, well-proportioned, 
and looked ' every inch a soldier.' There were a 
great many inches. 

As for Father Riccoboni, the learned have remarked 
that there are two chief clerical types: the dark, 
ascetic type, to be found equally among Unitarians, 
Baptists, Anglicans, Presbyterians, and Catholics, and 
the burly, well-fed, genial type, which ' cometh eat- 
ing and drinking.' The Father was of this second 
kind ; a lusty man — not that you could call him a 
sensual-looking man, still less was he a noisy humour- 
ist ; but he had a considerable jowl, a strong jaw, a 
wide, firm mouth, and large teeth, very white and 



ia4 THE DISENTANGLERS 

square. Logan thought that he, too, had the mak- 
ings of a soldier, and also felt almost certain that he 
had seen him before. But where? — for Logan's 
acquaintance with the clergy, especially the foreign 
clergy, was not extensive. The Father spoke Eng- 
lish very well, with a slight German accent and a 
little hoarseness; his voice, too, did not sound un- 
familiar to Logan. But he delved in his subconscious 
memory in vain ; there was the Father, a man with 
whom he certainly had some associations, yet he 
could not place the man. 

A bell jangled somewhere without as they took tea 
and tattled ; and, looking towards the place whence 
the sound came, Logan saw a little group of Italian 
musicians walking down the avenue which led through 
the park to the east side of the house and the 
main entrance. They entered, with many obeisances, 
through the old gate of floreated wrought iron, and 
stopping there, about forty yards away, they piped, 
while a girl, in the usual contadina dress, clashed her 
cymbals and danced not ungracefully. The Father, 
who either did not like music or did not like it of 
that sort, sighed, rose from his seat, and went into 
the house by an open French window. The Prince 
also rose, but he went forward to the group of Italians, 
and spoke to them for a few minutes. If he did not 
like that sort of music, he took the more excellent 
way, for the action of his elbow indicated a move- 
ment of his hand towards his waistcoat-pocket. He 
returned to the party on the terrace, and the itinerant 
artists, after more obeisances, walked slowly back by 
the way they had come. 



ADVENTURE OF THE EXEMPLARY EARL 125 

' They are Genoese/ said the Prince, ' tramping 
north to Scotland for the holiday season/ 

'They will meet strong competition from the 
pipers/ said Logan, while the Earl rose and walked 
rapidly after the musicians. 

* I do not like the pipes myself/ Logan went on, 
' but when I hear them in a London street my heart 
does warm to the skirl and the shabby tartans/ 

* I feel with you,' said the Prince, ' when I see the 
smiling faces of these poor sons of the South among 

— well, your English faces are not usually joyous — 
if one may venture to be critical/ 

He looked up, and, his eyes meeting those of Lady 
Alice, he had occasion to learn that every rule has its 
exceptions. The young people rose and wandered 
off on the lawn, while the Earl came back and said 
that he had invited the foreigners to refresh themselves. 

' I saw Father Riccoboni in the hall, and asked him 
to speak to them a little in their own lingo,' he added, 
' though he does not appear to be partial to the music 
of his native land.' 

' He seems to be of the Romansch districts,' Logan 
said ; ' his accent is almost German.' 

' I daresay he will make himself understood/ said 
the Earl. 'Do you understand this house, Mr. 
Logan? It looks very modern, does it not?' 

' Early Georgian, surely? ' said Logan. 

* The shell, at least on this side, is early Georgian 

— I rather regret it; but the interior, northward, 
except for the rooms in front here, is of the good old 
times. We have secret stairs — not that there is any 
secret about them — and odd cubicles, in the old 



136 THE DISENTANGLERS 

Border keep, which was re-faced about 1750; and we 
have a priest's hole or two, in which Father Ricco- 
boni might have been safe, but would have been very 
uncomfortable, three hundred years ago. I can show 
you the places to-morrow; indeed, we have very 
little in the way of amusement to offer you. Do you 
fish?' 

' I always take a trout rod about with me, in case 
of the best,' said Logan, ' but this is " soolky July," 
you know, and the trout usually seem sound asleep.' 

' Their habits are dissipated here,' said Lord Em- 
bleton. 'They begin to feed about ten o'clock at 
night. Did you ever try night fishing with the 
bustard?' 

' The bustard? ' asked Logan. 

' It is a big fluffy fly, like a draggled mayfly, fished 
wet, in the dark. I used to be fond of it, but age,' 
sighed the Earl, ' and fear of rheumatism have sepa- 
rated the bustard and me.' 

' I should like to try it very much,' said Logan. ' I 
often fished Tweed and Whitadder, at night, when I 
was a boy, but we used a small dark fly.' 

' You must be very careful if you fish at night here,' 
said Lady Mary. ' It is so dark in the valley under 
the woods, and the Coquet is so dangerous. The 
flat sandstone ledges are like the floor of a room, and 
then a step may land you in water ten feet deep, 
flowing in a narrow channel. I am always anxious 
when anyone fishes here at night You can swim? ' 

Logan confessed that he was not destitute of that 
accomplishment, and that he liked, of all things, to 
be by a darkling river, where you came across the 



ADVENTURE OF THE EXEMPLARY EARL 127 

night side of nature in the way of birds, beasts, and 
fishes. 

' Mr. Logan can take very good care of himself, I 
am sure/ said Lord Embleton, ' and Fenwick knows 
every inch of the water, and will go with him. Fen- 
wick is the water-keeper, Mr. Logan, and represents 
man in the fishing and shooting stage. His one 
thought is the destruction of animal life. He is a very 
happy man.' 

' I never knew but one keeper who was not,' said 
Logan. 'That was in Galloway. He hated shooting, 
he hated fishing. My impression is that he was what 
we call a *' Stickit Minister." ' 

'Nothing of that about Fenwick,' said the Earl. 
' I daresay you would like to see your room ? ' 

Thither Logan was conducted, through a hall hung 
with pikes, and guns, and bows, and clubs from the 
South Seas, and Zulu shields and assegais, while a 
few empty figures in tilting armour, lance in hand, 
stood on pedestals. Thence up a broad staircase, 
along a litde gallery, up a few steps of an old ' turn- 
pike ' staircase, Logan reached his room, which looked 
down through the trees of the cliff to the Coquet. 

Dinner passed in the silver light of the long north- 
em day, that threw strange blue reflections, sofler 
than sapphire, on the ancient plate — the ambassa- 
dorial plate of a Jacobean ancestor. 

* It should all have gone to the melting-pot for King 
Charles's service,' said the Earl, with a sigh, * but my 
ancestor of that day stood for the Parliament.' 

. Logan's position at dinner was better for observa- 
tion than for entertainment. He sat on the right hand 



128 THE DISENTANGLERS 

of Lady Mary, where the Prince ought to have been 
seated, but Lady Alice sat on her father's left, and 
next her, of course, the Prince. * Love rules the 
camp, the court, the grove,' and Love deranged the 
accustomed order, for the Prince sat between Lady 
Alice and Logan. Opposite Logan, and at Lady 
Mary's left, was the Jesuit, and next him, Scremers- 
ton, beside whom was Miss Willoughby, on the Earl's 
right. Inevitably the conversation of the Prince and 
LadyAlice was mainly directed to each other — so much 
so that Logan did not once perceive the princely eyes 
attracted to Miss Willoughby opposite to him, though 
it was not easy for another to look at anyone else. 
Logan, in the pauses of his rather conventional enter- 
tainment by Lady Mary, did look, and he was amazed 
no less by the beauty than by the spirits and gaiety 
of the young lady so recently left forlorn by the 
recreant Jephson. This flower of the Record Office 
and of the British Museum was obviously not destined 
to blush unseen any longer. She manifestly dazzled 
Scremerston, who seemed to remember Miss Bangs, 
her charms, and her dollars no more than Miss 
Willoughby appeared to remember the treacherous 
Don. 

Scremerston was very unlike his father : he was a 
small, rather fair man, with a slight moustache, a 
close-clipped beard, and little grey eyes with pink 
lids. His health was not good : he had been invalided 
home from the Imperial Yeomanry, after a slight 
wound and a dangerous attack of enteric fever, and 
he had secured a pair for the rest of the Session. 
He was not very clever, but he certainly laughed suf 



ADVENTURE OF THE EXEMPLARY EARL 129 

ficiently at what Miss Willoughby said, who also 
managed to entertain the Earl with great dexterity 
and aplomb* Meanwhile Logan and the Jesuit amused 
the excellent Lady Mary as best they might, which 
was not saying much. Lady Mary, though extremely 
amiable, was far from brilliant, and never having met 
a Jesuit before, she regarded Father Riccoboni with 
a certain hereditary horror, as an animal of a rare 
species, and, of habits perhaps startling and certainly 
perfidious. However, the lady was philanthropic in 
a rural way, and Father Riccoboni enlightened her as 
to the reasons why his enterprising countrymen leave 
their smiling land, and open small ice-shops in little 
English towns, or, less ambitious, invest their slender 
capital in a monkey and a barrel-organ. 

* I don't so very much mind barrel-organs myself' 
said Logan ; ' I don't know anything prettier than to 
see the little girls dancing to the music in a London 
side street.' 

' But do not the musicians all belong to that dread- 
ful Camorra?' asked the lady. 

* Not if they come from the North, madam,' said 
the Jesuit. ' And do not all your Irish reapers belong 
to that dreadful Land League, or whatever it is 
called ? ' 

* They are all Pap ' said Lady Mary, who then 

stopped, blushed, and said, with some presence of 

mind, ' paupers, I fear, but they are quite safe 

and well-behaved on this side of the Irish Channel.' 

* And so are our poor people,' said the Jesuit. ' If 
they occasionally use the knife a little — naturam ex- 
pellas furcay Mr. Logan, but the knife is a different 

9 



I30 THE DISENTANGLERS 

thing — it is only in a homely war among themselves 
that they handle it in the East-end of London/ 

' Calum non animum^ said Logan, determined not 
to be outdone in classical felicities ; and, indeed, he 
thought his own quotation the more appropriate. 

At this moment a great silvery-grey Persian cat, 
which had sat hitherto in a stereotyped Egyptian 
attitude on the arm of the Earl's chair, leaped down 
and sprang affectionately on the shoulder of the 
Jesuit He shuddered strongly and obviously re- 
pressed an exclamation with difficulty, as he gently 
removed the cat. 

' Fie, Meriamoun I ' said the Earl, as the puss 
resumed her Egyptian pose beside him. 'Shall I 
send the animal out of the room? I know some 
people cannot endure a cat,' and he mentioned the 
gallant Field Marshal who is commonly supposed to 
share this infirmity. 

' By no means, my lord,' said the Jesuit, who 
looked strangely pale. ' Cats have an extraordinary 
instinct for caressing people who happen to be bom 
with exactly the opposite instinct. I am like the 
man in Aristotle who was afraid of the cat.' 

' I wish we knew more about that man,' said Miss 
Willoughby, who was stroking Meriamoun. 'Are 
you afraid of cats. Lord Scremerston ? — but you, I 
suppose, are afraid of nothing.' 

' I am terribly afraid of all manner of flying things 
that buzz and bite,' said Scremerston. 

* Except bullets,' said Miss Willoughby — Beauty re- 
warding Valour with a smile and a glance so dazzling 
that the good little Yeoman blushed with pleasure. 



ADVENTURE OF THE EXEMPLARY EARL 131 

'It is a shame ! ' thought Logan. ' I don't like it 
now I see it/ 

' As to horror of cats/ said the Earl, ' I suppose 
evolution can explain it. I wonder how they would 
work it out in Science Jottings. There is a great deal 
of electricity in a cat.' 

' Evolution can explain everything/ said the Jesuit 
demurely, 'but who can explain evolution?' 

' As to electricity in the cat/ said Logan, ' I dare- 
say there is as much in the dog, only everybody has 
tried stroking a cat in the dark to see the sparks fly, 
and who ever tried stroking a dog in the dark, for 
experimental purposes? — did you, Lady Mary? ' 

Lady Mary never had tried, but the idea was new 
to her, and she would make the experiment in winter. 

' Deer skins, stroked, do sparkle,' said Logan, ' I 
read that in a book. I daresay horses do, only 
nobody tries. I don't think electricity is the explan- 
ation of why some people can't bear cats.' 

' Electricity is the modern explanation of every- 
thing — love, faith, everything/ remarked the Jesuit; 
' but, as I said, who shall explain electricity?' 

Lady Mary, recognising the orthodoxy of these 
sentiments, felt more friendly towards Father Ricco- 
boni. He might be a Jesuit; but he was bien pensanU 

' What I am afraid of is not a cat, but a mouse,' 
said Miss Willoughby, and the two other ladies 
admitted that their own terrors were of the same 
kind. 

' What I am afraid of,' said the Prince, ' is a banging 
door, by day or night. I am not, otherwise, of a 
nervous constitution, but if I hear a door bang, I 



132 THE DISENTANGLERS 

musi go and hunt for it, and stop the noise, either by 
shutting the door, or leaving it wide open. I am a 
sound sleeper, but, if a door bangs, it wakens me at 
once. I try not to notice it. I hope it will leave off. 
Then it does leave off — that is the artfulness of it — 
and, just as you are falling asleep, knock it goes ! A 
double knock, sometimes. Then I simply musi get 
up, and hunt for that door, upstairs or downstairs — ' 

'Or in my — ' interrupted Miss Willoughby, and 
stopped, thinking better of it, and not finishing the 
quotation, which passed unheard. 

* That research has taken me into some odd places,' 
the Prince ended ; and Logan reminded the Society 
of the Bravest of the Brave. What ke was afraid of 
was a pair of tight boots. 

These innocent conversations ended, and, after 
dinner, the company walked about or sat beneath the 
stars in the fragrant evening air, the Earl seated by 
Miss Willoughby, Scremerston smoking with Logan ; 
while the white dress of Lady Alice flitted ghost-like 
on the lawn, and the tip of the Prince's cigar burned 
red in the neighbourhood. In the drawing-room 
Lady Mary was tentatively conversing with the 
Jesuit, that mild but probably dangerous animal. 
She had the curiosity which pious maiden ladies feel 
about the member of a community which they only 
know through novels. Certainly this Jesuit was very 
unlike Aramis. 

'And who is he like?' Logan happened to be 
asking Scremerston at that moment. ' I know the 
face — I know the voice; hang it! — where have I 
seen the man?' 



ADVENTURE OF THE EXEMPLARY EARL 133 

' Now you mention it/ said Scremcrston, ' / seem to 
remember him too. But I can't place him. What do 
you think of a game of billiards, father?' he asked, 
rising and addressing Lord Embleton. * Rosamond 
— Miss Willoughby, I mean ' 

' Ohy we are cousins, Lord Embleton says, and you 
may call me Rosamond. I have never had any 
cousins before,' interrupted the young lady. 

* Rosamond,' said Scremerston, with a gulp, * is get- 
ting on wonderfully well for a beginner.' 

*Then let us proceed with her education: it is 
growing chilly, too,' said the Earl ; and they all went 
to billiards, the Jesuit marking with much attention 
and precision. Later he took a cue, and was easily 
the master of every man there, though better ac- 
quainted, he said, with the foreign game. The late 
Pope used to play, he said, nearly as well as Mr. 
Herbert Spencer. Even for a beginner. Miss Wil- 
loughby was not a brilliant player ; but she did not cut 
the cloth, and her arms were remarkably beautiful — 
an excellent but an extremely rare thing in woman. 
She was rewarded, finally, by a choice between bed- 
room candles lit and oflfered by her younger and her 
elder cousins, and, after a momentary hesitation, 
accepted that of the Earl. 

' How is this going to end ? ' thought Logan, when 
he was alone. ' Miss Bangs is out of the running, 
that is certain : millions of dollars cannot bring her 
near Miss Willoughby with Scremerston. The old 
gentleman ought to like that — it relieves him from 
the bacon and lard, and the dollars, and the associa- 
tions with a Straddle; and then Miss Willoughby's 



134 THE DISENTANGLERS 

family is all right, but the girl is reckless. A demon 
has entered into her : she used to be so quiet. I 'd 
rather marry Miss Bangs without the dollars. Then 
it is all very well for Scremerston to yield to Venus 
Verticordia, and transfer his heart to this new 
enchantress. But, if I am not mistaken, the Earl 
himself is much more kind than kin. The heart has 
no age, and he is a very well-preserved peer. You 
might take him for little more than forty, though 
he quite looked his years when I saw him first. 
Well, / am safe enough, in spite of Merton's warn- 
ing: this new Helen has no eyes for me, and the 
Prince has no eyes for her, I think. But who is the 
Jesuit?' 

Logan fought with his memory till he fell asleep, 
but he recovered no gleam of recollection about the 
holy man. 

It did not seem to Logan, next day, that he was in 
for a very lively holiday. His host carried off Miss 
Willoughby to the muniment-room after breakfast; 
that was an advantage he had over Scremerston, who 
was decidedly restless and ill at ease. He took 
Logan to see the keeper, and they talked about fish 
and examined local flies, and Logan arranged to go 
and try the trout with the bustard some night; and 
then they pottered about, and ate cherries in the 
garden, and finally the Earl found them half asleep 
in the smoking-room. He routed the Jesuit out of 
the library, where he was absorbed in a folio contain- 
ing the works of the sainted Father Parsons, and then 
the Earl showed Logan and Father Riccoboni over 
the house. From a window of the gallery Screm- 



ADVENTURE OF THE EXEMPLARY EARL 135 

erston could be descried playing croquet with Miss 
Willoughby, an apparition radiant in white. 

The house was chiefly remarkable for queer pas- 
sages, which, beginning from the roof of the old 
tower, above the Father's chamber, radiated about, 
emerging in unexpected places. The priests' holes 
had offered to the persecuted clergy of old times the 
choice between being grilled erect behind a chimney, 
or of lying flat in a chamber about the size of a coflin 
near the roof, where the martyr Jesuits lived on 
suction, like the snipe, absorbing soup from a long 
straw passed through a wall into a neighbouring 
garret. 

' Those were cruel times,' said Father Riccoboni, 
who presently, at luncheon, showed that he could 
thoroughly appreciate the tender mercies of the 
present or Christian era. Logan watched him, and 
once when, something that interested him being said, 
the Father swept the table with his glance without 
raising his head, a memory for a fraction of a moment 
seemed to float towards the surface of Logan's con- 
sciousness. Even as when an angler, having hooked 
a salmon, a monster of the stream, long the flsh bores 
down impetuous, seeking the sunken rocks, disdainful 
of the steel, and the dark wave conceals him ; then 
anon is beheld a gleam of silver, and again is lost to 
view, and the heart of the man rejoices — even so 
fugitive a glimpse had Logan of what he sought in 
the depths of memory. But it fled, and still he was 
puzzled. 

Logan loafed out after luncheon to a seat on the 
lawn in the shade of a tree. They were all to be 



136 THE DISENTANGLERS 

driven over to an Abbey not very far away, for, 
indeed, in July, there is little for a man to do in the 
country. Logan sat and mused. Looking up he 
saw Miss Willoughby approaching, twirling an open 
parasol on her shoulder. Her face was radiant ; of 
old it had often looked as if it might be stormy, as if 
there were thunder behind those dark eyebrows. 
Logan rose, but the lady sat down on the garden 
seat, and he followed her example. 

' This is better than Bloomsbury, Mr. Logan, and 
cocodL pour taut potage: singed cocoa usually.' 

'The potage here is certainly all that heart can 
wish,' said Logan. 

' The chrysalis,' said Miss Willoughby, ' in its 
wildest moments never dreamed of being a butterfly, 
as the man said in the sermon; and I feel like a 
butterfly that remembers being a chrysalis. Look at 
me now I ' 

' I could look for ever,' said Logan, ' like the 
sportsman in Keats's Grecian Urn : " For ever let me 
look, and thou be fair ! " ' 

* I am so sorry for people in town,' said Miss Wil- 
loughby. * Don't you wish dear old Milo was here ? ' 

Milo was the affectionate nickname — a tribute to 
her charms — borne by Miss Markham at St. Ursula's. 

' How can I wish that anyone was here but you ? ' 
asked Logan. * But, indeed, as to her being here, I 
should like to know in what capacity she was a 
guest.' 

The Clytemnestra glance came into Miss Willough- 
by's grey eyes for a moment, but she was not to be 
put out of humour. 



ADVENTURE OF THE EXEMPLARY EARL 137 

'To be here as a kinswoman, and an historian, 
with a maid — fancy me with a maid! — and every- 
thing handsome about me, is sufficiently excellent 
for me, Mr. Logan ; and if it were otherwise, do you 
disapprove of the proceedings of your own Society? 
But there is Lord Scremerston calling to us, and a 
four-in-hand waiting at the door. And I am to sit 
on the box-seat Oh, this is better than the dingy 
old Record Office all day.' 

With these words Miss Willoughby tripped over 
the sod as lightly as the Fairy Queen, and Logan 
slowly followed. No ; he did not approve of the pro- 
ceedings of his Society as exemplified by Miss Wil- 
loughby, and he was nearly guilty of falling asleep 
during the drive to Winderby Abbey. Scremerston 
was not much more genial, for his father was driving 
and conversing very gaily with his fair kinswoman. 

' Talk about a distant cousin ! ' thought Logan, who 
in fact felt ill-treated. However deep in love a man 
may be, he does not like to see a fair lady conspicu- 
ously much more interested in other members of his 
sex than in himself. 

The Abbey was a beautiful ruin, and Father Ricco- 
boni did not conceal from Lady Mary the melancholy 
emotions with which it inspired him. 

* When shall our prayers be heard ? * he murmured. 
' When shall England return to her Mother's bosom? ' 

Lady Mary said nothing, but privately trusted that 
the winds would disperse the orisons of which the 
Father spoke. Perhaps nuns had been bricked up in 
these innocent-looking mossy walls, thought Lady 
Mary, whose ideas on this matter were derived from 



138 THE DISENTANGLERS 

a scene in the poem of Marmion. And deep in Lady 
Mary's heart was a half- formed wish that, if there was 
to be any bricking up, Miss Willoughby might be the 
interesting victim. Unlike her brother the Earl, she 
was all for the Bangs alliance. 

Scremerston took the reins on the homeward way, 
the Earl being rather fatigued ; and, after dinner, two 
white robes flitted ghost-like on the lawn, and the 
light which burned red beside one of them was the 
cigar-tip of Scremerston. The Earl had fallen asleep 
in the drawing-room, and Logan took a lonely stroll, 
much regretting that he had come to a house where 
he felt decidedly ' out of it.' He wandered down to 
the river, and stood watching. He was beside the 
dark-brown water in the latest twilight, beside a 
long pool with a boat moored on the near bank. He 
sat down in the boat pensively, and then — what was 
that? It was the sound of a heavy trout rising. 
* Plop, plop ! ' They were feeding all round him. 

* By Jove ! I '11 try the bustard to-morrow night, 
and then I '11 go back to town next day/ thought 
Logan. ' I am doing no good here, and I don't like 
it. I shall tell Merton that I have moral objections 
to the whole affair. Miserable, mercenary fraud ! ' 
Thus, feeling very moral and discontented, Logan 
walked back to the house, carefully avoiding the 
ghostly robes that still glimmered on the lawn, and 
did not re-enter the house till bedtime. 

The following day began as the last had done; 
Lord Embleton and Miss Willoughby retiring to the 
muniment-room, the lovers vanishing among the 
walks. Scremerston again took Logan to consult 



ADVENTURE OF THE EXEMPLARY EARL 139 

Fenwick, who visibly brightened at the idea of night- 
fishing. 

' You must take one of those long landing-nets, 
Logan/ said Scremerston. ' They are about as tall 
as yourself, and as stout as lance-shafts. They are 
for steadying you when you wade, and feeling the 
depth of the water in front of you.' 

Scremerston seemed very pensive. The day was 
hot ; they wandered to the smoking-room. Screm- 
erston took up a novel, which he did not read ; Logan 
began a letter to Merton — a gloomy epistle. 

* I say, Logan,' suddenly said Scremerston, ' if your 
letter is not very important, I wish you would listen 
to me for a moment.' 

Logan turned round. ' Fire away,' he said ; ' my 
letter can wait.' 

Scremerston was in an attitude of deep dejection. 
Logan lit a cigarette and waited. 

' Logan, I am the most miserable beggar alive.' 

* What is the matter? You seem rather in-and-out 
in your moods,' said Logan. 

* Why, you know, I am in a regular tight place. I 
don't know how to put it. You sec, I can't help 
thinking that — that — I have rather committed my- 
self — it seems a beastly conceited thing to say — 
that there 's a girl who likes me, I 'm afraid.' 

' I don't want to be inquisitive, but is she in this 
country?' asked Logan. 

* No ; she *s at Homburg.' 

' Has it gone very far? Have you said anything? ' 
asked Logan. 

' No ; my father did not like it I hoped to bring 
him round.' 



I40 THE DISENTANGLERS 

* Have you written anything ? Do you correspond ? ' 
' No, but I 'm afraid I have looked a lot' 

As the Viscount Scremerston's eyes were by no 
means fitted to express with magnetic force the 
language of the affections, Logan had to command 
his smile. 

' But why have you changed your mind, if you 
liked her? ' he asked. 

' Oh, you know very well ! Can anybody see her 
and not love her?' said Scremerston, with a vague- 
ness in his pronouns, but referring to Miss Willoughby. 

Logan was inclined to reply that he could furnish, 
at first hand, an exception to the rule, but this ap- 
peared tactless. 

* No one, I daresay, whose affections were not 
already engaged, could see her without loving her ; 
but I thought yours had been engaged to a lady 
now at Homburg?' 

' So did I,' said the wretched Scremerston, ' but I 
was mistaken. Oh, Logan, you don't know the dif- 
ference I This is genuine biz,' remarked the afflicted 
nobleman with much simplicity. He went on : ' Then 
there 's my father — you know him. He was against 
the other affair, but, if he thinks I have committed 
myself and then want to back out, why, with his 
ideas, he 'd rather see me dead. But I can't go on 
with the other thing now : I simply can not. I 've 
a good mind to go out after rabbits, and pot myself 
crawling through a hedge.' 

' Oh, nonsense ! ' said Logan ; ' that is stale and 
superfluous. For all that I can see, there is no harm 
done. The young lady, depend upon it, won't break 



ADVENTURE OF THE EXEMPLARY EARL 141 

her heart. As a matter of fact, they don't — we do. 
You have only to sit tight. You are no more com- 
mitted than I am. You would only make both of 
you wretched if you went and committed youriself 
now, when you don't want to do it. In your position 
I would certainly sit tight : don't commit yourself — 
either here or there, so to speak; or, if you can't 
sit tight, make a bolt for it. Go to Norway. I am 
very strongly of opinion that the second plan is the 
best. But, anyhow, keep up your pecker. You are 
all right — I give you my word that I think you are 
all right.' 

'Thanks, old cock,' said Scremerston. 'Sorry to 
have bored you, but I had to speak to somebody.' 

' Best thing you could do,' said Logan. ' You '11 
feel ever so much better. That kind of worry comes 
of keeping things to oneself, till molehills look 
mountains. If you like I '11 go with you to Norway 
myself.' 

' Thanks, awfully/ said Scremerston, but he did 

not seem very keen. Poor little Scremerston ! 

• . • . . . • 

Logan 'breasted the brae' from the riverside to 
the house. His wading-boots were heavy, for he had 
twice got in over the tops thereof; heavy was his 
basket that Fenwick carried behind him, but light 
was Logan's heart, for the bustard had slain its 
dozens of good trout. He and the keeper emerged 
from the wood on the level of the lawn. All the 
great mass of the house lay dark before them. Logan 
was to let himself in by the locked French window ; 
for it was very late — about two in the morning. 



142 THE DISENTANGLERS 

He had the key of the window-door in his pocket 
A light moved through the long gallery : he saw it 
pass each window and vanish. There was dead 
silence : not a leaf stirred. Then there rang out a 
pistol-shot, or was it two pistol-shots? Logan ran 
for the window, his rod, which he had taken down 
after fishing, in his hand. 

* Hurry to the back door, Fenwick ! ' he said ; and 
Fenwick, throwing down the creel, but grasping the 
long landing-net, flew to the back way. Logan 
opened the drawing-room window, took out his match- 
box, with trembling fingers lit a candle, and, with the 
candle in one hand, the rod in the other, sped through 
the hall, and along a back passage leading to the 
gunroom. He had caught a glimpse of the Earl run- 
ning down the main staircase, and had guessed that 
the trouble was on the ground floor. As he reached 
the end of the long dark passage, Fenwick leaped in 
by the back entrance, of which the door was open. 
What Logan saw was a writhing group — the Prince 
of Scalastro struggling in the arms of three men: 
a long white heap lay crumpled in a corner. Fen- 
wick, at this moment, threw the landing-net over the 
head of one of the Prince's assailants, and with a twist, 
held the man half choked and powerless. Fenwick 
went on twisting, and, with the leverage of the long 
shaft of the net, dragged the wretch off the Prince, 
and threw him down. Another of the men turned on 
Logan with a loud guttural oath, and was raising a 
pistol. Logan knew the voice at last — knew the 
Jesuit now. *Ri€n m va plus I * he cried, and lunged, 
with all the force and speed of an expert fencer, at 



ADVENTURE OF THE EXEMPLARY EARL 143 

the fellow's face with the point of the rod. The 
metal joints clicked and crashed through the man's 
mouth, his pistol dropped, and he staggered, cursing 
through his blood, against the wall. Logan picked 
up the revolver as the Prince, whose hands were now 
free, floored the third of his assailants with an upper 
cut. Logan thrust the revolver into the Prince's 
hand. ' Keep them quiet with that,' he said, and ran 
to where the Earl, who had entered unseen in the 
struggle, was kneeling above the long, white, crumpled 
heap. 

It was Scremerston, dead, in his night dress : poor 
plucky little Scremerston. 

• •••••• 

Afterwards, before the trial, the Prince told Logan 
how matters had befallen. 'I was wakened,' he 
said — ' you were very late, you know, and we had all 
gone to bed — I was wakened by a banging door. If 
you remember, I told you all, on the night of your 
arrival at Rookchester, how I hated that sound. I 
tried not to think of it, and was falling asleep when 
it banged again — a double knock. I was nearly 
asleep, when it clashed again. There was no wind, 
my window was open and I looked out : I only heard 
the river murmuring and the whistle of a passing 
train. The stillness made the abominable recurrent 
noise more extraordinary. I dressed in a moment in 
my smoking-clothes, lit a candle, and went out of my 
room, listening. I walked along the gallery — ' 

'It was your candle that I saw as I crossed the 
lawn,' said Logan. 

• When a door opened,' the Prince went on — ' the 



144 THE DISENTANGLERS 

door of one of the rooms on the landing — and a 
figure, all in white, — it was Scremerston, — emerged 
and disappeared down the stairs. I followed at the 
top of my speed. I heard a shot, or rather two pistols 
that rang out together like one. I ran through the 
hall into the long back passage at right-angles to it, 
down the passage to the glimmer of light through 
the partly glazed door at the end of it. Then my 
candle was blown out and three men set on me. 
They had nearly pinioned me when you and Fenwick 
took them on both flanks. You know the rest. They 
had the boat unmoored, a light cart ready on the 
other side, and a steam-yacht lying off Warkworth. 
The object, of course, was to kidnap me, and coerce 
or torture me into renewing the lease of the tables at 
Scalastro. Poor Scremerston, who was a few seconds 
ahead of me, not carrying a candle, had fired in the 
dark, and missed. The answering fire, which was 
simultaneous, killed him. The shots saved me, for 
they brought you and Fenwick to the rescue. Two 
of the fellows whom we damaged were * 

•The Genoese pipers, of course,* said Logan. 

'And you guessed, from the cry you gave, who 
my confessor {he banged the door, of course to draw 
me) turned out to be ? ' 

'Yes, the head croupier at Scalastro years ago; 
but he wore a beard and blue spectacles in the old 
time, when he raked in a good deal of my patrimony,' 
said Logan. ' But how was he planted on you? ' 

* My old friend, Father Costa, had died, and it is 
too long a tale of forgery and fraud to tell you how 
this wretch was forced on me. He had been a Jesuit, 



ADVENTURE OF THE EXEMPLARY EARL 145 

but was unfrocked and expelled from Society for all 
sorts of namable and unnamable offences. His com- 
munity believed that he was dead. So he fell to the 
profession in which you saw him, and, when the 
gambling company saw that I was disinclined to let 
that hell burn any longer on my rock, ingenious 
treachery did the rest.' 
* By Jove ! ' said Logan. 

The Prince of Scalastro, impoverished by his own 
generous impulse, now holds high rank in the Japan- 
ese service. His beautiful wife is much admired in 
Yokohama. 

The Earl was nursed through the long and danger- 
ous illness which followed the shock of that dreadful 
July night, by the unwearying assiduity of his kins- 
woman, Miss Willoughby. On his recovery, the bride 
(for the Earl won her heart and hand) who stood by 
him at the altar looked fainter and more ghostly than 
the bridegroom. But her dark hour of levity was 
passed and over. There is no more affectionate pair 
than the Earl and Countess of Embleton. Lady Mary, 
who lives with them, is once more an aunt, and spoils, 
it is to be feared, the young Viscount Scremerston, 
a fine but mischievous little boy. On the fate of the 
ex-Jesuit we do not dwell: enough to say that his 
punishment was decreed by the laws of our country, 
not of that which he had disgraced. 

The manuscripts of the Earl have been edited by 
him and the Countess for the Roxburghe Club. 



10 



VIII 

THE ADVENTURE OF THE LADY PATRONESS 

* T CANNOT bring myself to refuse my assent. It 
1 would break the dear child's heart. She has 
never cared for anyone else, and, oh, she is quite 
wrapped up in him. I have heard of your wonder- 
ful cures, Mr. Merton, I mean successes, in cases 
which everyone has given up, and though it seems 
a very strange step to me, I thought that I ought to 
shrink from no remedy ' 

' However unconventional,' said Merton, smiling. 
He felt rather as if he were being treated like a 
quack doctor, to whom people (if foolish enough) 
appeal only as the last desperate resource. 

The lady who filled, and amply filled, the client's 
chair, Mrs. Malory, of Upwold in Yorkshire, was a 
widow, obviously, a widow indeed. ' In weed ' was 
an unworthy caUtnbour which flashed through Mer- 
ton's mind, since Mrs. Malory's undying regret for 
her lord (a most estimable man for a coal owner) was 
explicitly declared, or rather was blazoned abroad, in 
her costume. Mrs. Mallory, in fact, was what is deri- 
sively styled * Early Victorian ' — ' Middle ' would have 
been, historically, more accurate. Her religion was 
mildly Evangelical ; she had been brought up on the 



ADVENTURE OF THE LADY PATRONESS 147 

Memoirs of the Fairchild Family, by Mrs. Sherwood, 
tempered by Miss Yonge and the Waverley Novels. 
On these principles she had trained her family. The 
result was that her sons had not yet brought the 
family library, and the family Romneys and Hoppners, 
to Christie's. Not one of them was a director of any 
company, and the name of Malory had not yet been 
distinguished by decorating the annals of the Courts 
of Bankruptcy or of Divorce. In short, a family more 
deplorably not ' up to date,' and more ' out of the 
swim ' could scarcely be found in England. 

Such, and of such connections, was the lady, fair, 
faded, with mildly aquiline features, and an aspect at 
once distinguished and dowdy, who appealed to 
Merton. She sought him in what she, at least, re- 
garded as the interests of her eldest daughter, an 
heiress under the will of a maternal uncle. Merton 
had met the young lady, who looked like a portrait 
of her mother in youth. He knew that Miss Malory, 
now ' wrapped up in ' her betrothed lover, would, in 
a few years, be equally absorbed in ' her boys/ She 
was pretty, blonde, dull, good, and cast by Providence 
for the part of one of the best of mothers, and the 
despair of what man soever happened to sit next her 
at a dinner party. Such women are the safeguards 
of society — though sneered at by the frivolous as 
'British Matrons.' 

* I have laid the case before the — where I always 
take my troubles,' said Mrs. Malory, ' and I have not 
felt restrained from coming to consult you. When I 
permitted my daughter's engagement (of course after 
carefully examining the young man's worldly posi- 



148 THE DISENTANGLERS 

tion) I was not aware of what I know now. Matilda 
met him at a visit to some neighbours — he really is 
very attractive, and very attentive — and it was not 
till we came to London for the season that I heard 
the stories about him. Some of them have been 
pointed out to me, in print, in the dreadful French 
newspapers, others came to me in anonymous letters. 
As far as a mother may, I tried to warn Matilda, but 
there are subjects on which one can hardly speak to 
a girl. The Vidame, in fact,' said Mrs. Malory, blush- 
ing, 'is celebrated — I should say infamous — both 
in France and Italy, Poland too, as what they call un 
homme aux bonnes fortunes. He has caused the break- 
up of several families. Mr. Merton, he is a rake,' 
whispered the lady, in some confusion. 

* He is still young ; he may reform,' said Merton, 
' and no doubt a pure affection will be the saving of 
him.* 

' So Matilda believes, but, though a Protestant — 
his ancestors having left France after the Revocation 
of the Edict of Nancy — Nantes I mean — I am cer- 
tain that he is not under conviction.' 

* Why does he call himself Vidame, " the Vidame 
de la Lain " ? ' asked Merton. 

' It is an affectation,' said Mrs. Malory. ' None of 
his family used the title in England, but he has been 
much on the Continent, and has lands in France ; and, 
I suppose, has romantic ideas. He is as much French 
as English, more I am afraid. The wickedness of 
that country ! And I fear it has affected ours. Even 
now — I am not a scandal-monger, and I hope for the 
best — but even last winter he was talked about/ Mrs. 



ADVENTURE OF THE LADY PATRONESS 149 

Malory dropped her voice, ' with a lady whose hus- 
band is in America, Mrs. Brown-Smith.' 

' A lady for whom I have the very highest esteem/ 
said Merton, for, indeed, Mrs. Brown-Smith was one 
of his references or Lady Patronesses ; he knew her 
well, and had a respect for her character, au fond^ as 
well as an admiration for her charms. 

' You console me indeed,' said Mrs. Malory. ' I 
had heard * 

' People talk a great deal of ill-natured nonsense,' 
said Merton warmly. 'Do you know Mrs. Brown- 
Smith?' 

'We have met, but we are not in the same set; we 
have exchanged visits, but that is all.' 

' Ah ! ' said Merton thoughtfully. He remembered 
that when his enterprise was founded Mrs. Brown- 
Smith had kindly offered her practical services, and 
that he had declined them for the moment. ' Mrs. 
Malory,' he went on, after thinking awhile, ' may I 
take your case into my consideration — the marriage 
is not till October, you say, we are in June — and I 
may ask for a later interview? Of course you shall 
be made fully aware of every detail, and nothing 
shall be done without your approval. In fact all will 
depend on your own co-operation. I don't deny that 
there may be distasteful things, but if you are quite 
sure about this gentleman's ' 

' Character? ' said Mrs. Malory. ' I am 5^ sure that 
it has cost me many a wakeful hour. You will earn 
my warmest gratitude if you can do anything.' 

' Almost everything will depend on your own 
energy, and tolerance of our measures.' 



15© THE DISENTANGLERS 

' But we must not do evil that good may come/ 
said Mrs. Malory nervously. 

' No evil is contemplated/ said Merton. But Mrs. 
Malory, while consenting, so far, did not seem quite 
certain that her estimate of ' evil ' and Merton's would 
be identical. 

She had suffered poignantly, as may be supposed, 
before she set the training of a lifetime aside, and 
consulted a professional expert. But the urbanity 
and patience of Merton, with the high and unblem- 
ished reputation of his Association, consoled her. 
* We must yield where we innocently may,' she as- 
sured herself, ' to the changes of the times. Lest 
one good order ' (and ah, how good the Early Vic- 
torian order had been!) 'should corrupt the world.' 
Mrs. Malory knew that line of poetry. Then she 
remembered that Mrs. Brown-Smith was on the list 
of Merton*s references, and that reassured her, more 
or less. 

As for Merton, he evolved a plan in his mind, and 
consulted Bradshaw's invaluable Railway Guide. 

On the following night Merton was fortunate or 
adroit enough to find himself seated beside Mrs. 
Brown-Smith in a conservatory at a party given by 
the Montenegrin Ambassador. Other occupants of 
the fairy-like bower of blossoms, musical with all the 
singing of the innumerable fountains, could not but 
know (however preoccupied) that Mrs. Brown-Smith 
was being amused. Her laughter * rang merry and 
loud,' as the poet says, though not a word of her 
whispered conversation was audible. Conservatories 
(in novels) are dangerous places for confidences, but 



ADVENTURE OF THE LADY PATRONESS 151 

the pale and angry face of Miss Malory did not sud- 
denly emerge from behind a grove of gardenias, and 
startle the conspirators. Indeed, Miss Malory was 
not present ; she and her sister had no great share 
in the elegant frivolities of the metropolis. 

' It all fits in beautifully/ said Mrs. Brown-Smith. 
'Just let me look at the page of Bradshaw again.' 
Merton handed to her a page of closely printed 
matter. '9.17 P.M., 9.50 P.M.' read Mrs. Brown- 
Smith aloud ; * it gives plenty of time in case of 
delays. Oh, this is too delicious! You are sure 
that these trains won't be altered. It might be 
awkward.' 

' I consulted Anson,' said Merton. Anson was 
famous for his mastery of time-tables, and his pre- 
science as to railway arrangements. 

• Of course it depends on the widow,' said Mrs. 
Brown-Smith, * I shall see that Johnnie is up to time. 
He hopes to undersell the opposition soap' (Mr. 
Brown-Smith was absent in America, in the interests 
of that soap of his which is familiar to all), ' and he 
is in the best of humours. Then their grouse ! We 
have disease on our moors in Perthshire; I was in 
despair. But the widow needs delicate handling.' 

' You won't forget — I know how busy you are — 
her cards for your party?' 

• They shall be posted before I sleep the sleep of 
conscious innocence.' 

' And real benevolence,' said Merton. 

• And revenge,' added Mrs. Brown-Smith. ' I have 
heard of his bragging, the monster. He has talked 
about me. And I remember how he treated Violet 
Lebas.' 



152 THE DISENTANGLERS 

At this moment the Vidame de la Lain, a tall, fair 
young man, vastly too elegant, appeared, and claimed 
Mrs. Brown- Smith for a dance. With a look at Mer- 
ton, and a sound which, from less perfect lips, might 
have been described as a suppressed giggle, Mrs. 
Brown-Smith rose, then turning, ' Post the page to 
me, Mr. Merton,' she said. Merton bowed, and, fold- 
ing up the page of the time-table, he consigned it to 
his cigarette case. 

Mrs. Malory received, with a blending of emotions, 
the invitation to the party of Mrs. Brown-Smith. The 
social popularity and the wealth of the hostess made 
such invitations acceptable. But the wealth arose 
from trade, in soap, not in coal, and coal (like the 
colza bean) is * a product of the soil,' the result of 
creative forces which, in the geological past, have 
worked together for the good of landed families. 
Soap, on the other hand, is the result of human 
artifice, and is certainly advertised with more of 
emphasis and of ingenuity than of delicacy. But, 
by her own line of descent, Mrs. Brown-Smith came 
from a Scottish house of ancient standing, historically 
renowned for its assassins, traitors, and time-servers. 
This partly washed out the stain of soap. Again, 
Mrs. Malory had heard the name of Mrs. Brown- 
Smith taken in vain, and that in a matter nearly 
affecting her Matilda's happiness. On the other 
side, Merton had given the lady a valuable testi- 
monial to character. Moreover, the Vidame would 
be at her party, and Mrs. Malory told herself that 
she could study the ground. Above all, the girls 



ADVENTURE OF THE LADY PATRONESS 153 

were so anxious to go: they seldom had such a 
chance. Therefore, while the Early Victorian moral- 
ist hesitated, the mother accepted. 

They were all glad that they went. Susan, the 
younger Miss Malory, enjoyed herself extremely. 
Matilda danced with the Vidame as often as her 
mother approved. The conduct of Mrs. Brown- 
Smith was correctness itself. She endeared herself 
to the girls : invited them to her place in Perthshire, 
and warmly congratulated Mrs. Malory on the event 
approaching in her family. The eye of maternal sus- 
picion could detect nothing amiss. Thanks mainly 
to Mrs. Brown-Smith, the girls found the season an 
earthly Paradise : and Mrs. Malory saw much more 
of the world than she had ever done before. But 
she remained vigilant, and on the alert. Before the 
end of July she had even conceived the idea of in- 
viting Mrs. Brown-Smith, fatigued by her toils, to 
inhale the bracing air of Upwold in the moors. But 
she first consulted Merton, who expressed his warm 
approval. 

' It is dangerous, though she has been so kind,' 
sighed Mrs. Malory. ' I have observed nothing to 
justify the talk which I have heard, but I am in 
doubt.' 

' Dangerous ! it is safety,' said Merton. 

'How?' 

Merton braced himself for the most delicate and 
perilous part of his enterprise. 

* The Vidame de la Lain will be staying with you ? ' 

' Naturally,' said Mrs. Malory. ' And if there is 
any truth in what was whispered ' 



IS4 THE DISENTANGLERS 

' He will be subject to temptation/ said Merton. 

'Mrs. Brown-Smith is so pretty and so amusing, 
and dear Matilda; she takes after my dear husband's 
family, though the best of girls, Matilda has not 
that flashing manner/ 

' But surely no such thing as temptation should 
exist for a man so fortunate as de la Lain ! And if 
it did, would his conduct not confirm what you have 
heard, and open the eyes of Miss Malory?' 

' It seems so odd to be discussing such things with 
so young a man as you — not even a relation,' sighed 
Mrs. MsJory. 

' I can withdraw at once,' said Merton.- 

' Oh no, please don't speak of that ! I am not 
really at all happy yet about my daughter's future.' 

'Well, suppose the worst by way of argument; 
suppose that you saw, that Miss Malory saw ' 

' Matilda has always refused to see or to listen, and 
has spoken of the reforming effects of a pure affec- 
tion. She would be hard, indeed, to convince that 
anything was wrong, but, once certain — I know Ma- 
tilda's character — she would never forgive the insult, 
never.' 

'And you would rather that she suffered some 
present distress?' 

' Than that she was tied for life to a man who could 
cause it? Certainly I would/ 

'Then, Mrs. Malory, as it is awkward to discuss 
these intimate matters with me, might I suggest that 
you should have an interview with Mrs. Brown-Smith 
herself ? I assure you that you can trust her, and 
I happen to know that her view of the man about 



ADVENTURE OF THE LADY PATRONESS 155 

whom we are talking is exactly your own. More 
I could say as to her reasons and motives, but we 
entirely decline to touch on the past or to offer any 
opinion about the characters of our patients — the 
persons about whose engagements we are consulted. 
He might have murdered his grandmother or robbed 
a church, but my lips would be sealed.' 

' Do you not think that Mrs. Brown-Smith would be 
very much surprised if I consulted her? ' 

' I know that she takes a sincere interest in Miss 
Malory, and that her advice would be excellent — 
though perhaps rather startling,' said Merton. 

' I dislike it very much. The world has altered 
terribly since I was Matilda's age,' said Mrs. Malory ; 
' but I should never forgive myself if I neglected any 
precaution, and I shall take your advice. I shall 
consult Mrs. Brown-Smith.' 

Merton thus retreated from what even he regarded 
as a difficult and delicate affair. He fell back on his 
reserves; and Mrs. Brown-Smith later gave an ac- 
count of what passed between herself and the 
representative of an earlier age: 

' She first, when she had invited me to her dreary 
place, explained that we ought not, she feared, to 
lead others into temptation. "If you think that 
man, de la Lain's temptation is to drag my father's 
name, and my husband's, in the dust," I answered, 
" let me tell you that / have a temptation also." 

* " Dear Mrs. Brown-Smith," she answered, '* this is 
indeed honourable candour. Not for the world would 
I be the occasion " 

'I interrupted her, '* Afy temptation is to make 



iS6 THE DISENTANGLERS 

him the laughing stock of his acquaintance, and, 
if he has the impudence to give me the opportunity, 
I will!*' And then I told her, without names, of 
course, that story about this Vidame Potter and 
Violet Lebas.' 

'I did not! said Merton. 'But why Vidame 
Potter?' 

'His father was a Mr. Potter; his grandfather 
married a Miss Lalain — I know all about it — and 
this creature has wormed out, or invented, some 
story of a Vidameship, or whatever it is, hereditary 
in the female line, and has taken the title. And this 
is the man who has had the impertinence to talk about 
me^ a Ker of Graden.' 

' But did not the story you speak of make 
her see that she must break off her daughter's 
engagement?' 

' No. She was very much distressed, but said that 
her daughter Matilda would never believe it' 

'And so you are to go to Upwold?' 

' Yes, it is a mournful place ; I never did anything 
so good-natured. And, with the widow's knowledge, 
I am to do as I please till the girl's eyes are opened. 
I think it will need that stratagem we spoke of to 
open them.' 

' You are sure that you will be in no danger from 
evil tongues?* 

'They say. What say they? Let them say,' an- 
swered Mrs. Brown-Smith, quoting the motto of the 
Keiths. 

The end of July found Mrs. Brown-Smith at 
Upwold, where it is to be hoped that the bracing 



ADVENTURE OF THE LADY PATRONESS 157 

qualities of the atmosphere made up for the want 
of congenial society. Susan Malory had been dis- 
creetly sent away on a visit None of the men of the 
family had arrived. There was a party of local neigh- 
bours, who did not feel the want of anything to do, 
but lived in dread of flushing the Vidame and Matilda 
out of a window seat whenever they entered a room. 

As for the Vidame, being destitute of all other 
entertainment, he made love in a devoted manner. 

But at dinner, after Mrs. Brown-Smith's arrival, 
though he sat next Matilda, Mrs. Malory saw that his 
eyes were mainly bent on the lady opposite. The ping- 
pong of conversation, even, was played between him 
and Mrs. Brown-Smith across the table : the county 
neighbours were quite lost in their endeavours to fol- 
low the flight of the ball. Though the drawing-room 
window, after dinner, was open on the fragrant lawn, 
though Matilda sat close by it, in her wonted place, 
the Vidame was hanging over the chair of the visitor, 
and later, played billiards with her, a game at which 
Matilda did not excel. At family prayers next morn- 
ing (the service was conducted by Mrs. Malory) the 
Vidame appeared with a white rosebud in his button- 
hole, Mrs. Brown-Smith wearing its twin sister. He 
took her to the stream in the park where she fished, 
Matilda following in a drooping manner. The Vi- 
dame was much occupied in extracting the flies from 
the hair of Mrs. Brown-Smith, in which they were 
frequently entangled. After luncheon he drove with 
the two ladies and Mrs. Malory to the country town, 
the usual resource of ladies in the country, and 
though he sat next Matilda, Mrs. Brown-Smith was 



IS8 THE DISENTANGLERS 

beaming opposite, and the pair did most of the talk- 
ing. While Mrs. Malory and her daughter shopped, 
it was the Vidame who took Mrs. Brown- Smith to 
inspect the ruins of the Abbey. The county neigh- 
bours had left in the morning, a new set arrived, and 
while Matilda had to entertain them, it was Mrs. 
Brown-Smith whom the Vidame entertained. 

This kind of thing went on; when Matilda was 
visiting her cottagers it was the Vidame and Mrs. 
Brown-Smith whom visitors flushed in window seats. 
They wondered that Mrs. Malory had asked so dan- 
gerous a woman to the house : they marvelled that 
she seemed quite radiant and devoted to her lively 
visitor. There was a school feast : it was the Vidame 
who arranged hurdle-races for children of both sexes 
(so improper I ), and who started the competitors. 

Meanwhile Mrs. Malory, so unusually genial in pub- 
lic, held frequent conventicles with Matilda in private. 
But Matilda declined to be jealous ; they were only 
old friends, she said, these flagitious two ; Dear Anne 
(that was the Vidame's Christian name) was all that 
she could wish. 

' You know the place is so dull, mother,' the brave 
girl said. ' Even grandmamma, who was a saint, says 
so in her Domestic Outpourings ' (religious memoirs 
privately printed in 1838). ' We cannot amuse Mrs. 
Brown-Smith, and it is so kind and chivalrous of 
Anne.' 

' To neglect you ? ' 

' No, to do duty for Tom and Dick,' who were her 
brothers, and who would not greatly have entertained 
the fair visitor had they been present 



ADVENTURE OF THE LADY PATRONESS 159 

Matilda was the kind of woman whom we all adore 
as represented in the characters of Fielding's Amelia 
and Sophia. Such she was, so gracious and yielding, 
in her overt demeanour, but, alas, poor Matilda's 
pillow was often wet with her tears. She was loyal ; 
she would not believe evil : she crushed her natural 
jealousy ' as a vice of blood, upon the threshold of 
the mind.' 

Mrs. Brown-Smith was nearly as unhappy as the 
girl. The more she hated the Vidame — and she 
detested him more deeply every day — the more her 
heart bled for Matilda. Mrs. Brown-Smith also had 
her secret conferences with Mrs. Malory. 

' Nothing will shake her belief in that man/ said 
Mrs. Malory. 

' Your daughter is the best girl I ever met/ said 
Mrs. Brown-Smith. 'The best tempered, the least 
suspicious, the most loyal. And I am doing my 
worst to make her hate me. Oh, I can't go on ! ' 
Here Mrs. Brown-Smith very greatly surprised her 
hostess by bursting into tears. 

' You must not desert us now,' said the elder lady. 
'The better you think of poor Matilda — and she 
is a good girl — the more you ought to help 
her.' 

It was the 8th of August, no other visitors were at 
the house, a shooting party was expected to arrive on 
the nth. Mrs. Brown-Smith dried her tears. 'It 
must be done,' she said, ' though it makes me sick to 
think of it.' 

Next day she met the Vidame in the park, and 
afterwards held a long conversation with Mrs. Malory. 



i6o THE DISENTANGLERS 

As for the \ndame, he was in feverish high spirits, he 
devoted himself to Matilda, in fact Mrs. Brown- 
Smith had insisted on such dissimulation, as abso- 
lutely necessary at this juncture of affairs. So 
Matilda bloomed again, like a rose that had been 
' washed, just washed, in a shower.' The Vidame 
went about humming the airs of the country which he 
had honoured by adopting it as the cradle of his 
ancestry. 

On the morning of the following day, while the 
Vidame strayed with Matilda in the park, Mrs. 
Brown-Smith was closeted with Mrs. Malory in her 
boudoir. 

* Everything is arranged,' said Mrs. Brown-Smith. 
' I, guilty and reckless that I am, have only to sacri- 
fice my character, and all my things. But I am to 
retain Methven, my maid. That concession I have 
won from his chivalry.' 

* How do you mean ? ' asked Mrs. Malory. 

' At seven he will get a telegram summoning him 
to Paris on urgent business. He will leave in your 
station brougham in time to catch the 9.50 up train 
at Wilkington. Or, rather, so impatient is he, he will 
leave half an hour too early, for fear of accidental 
delays. I and my maid will accompany him. I have 
thought honesty the best policy, and told the truth, 
like Bismarck, ** and the same," ' said Mrs. Brown-Smith 
hysterically, * " with intent to deceive." I have pointed 
out to him that my best plan is to pretend to you that 
I am going to meet my husband, who really arrives 
at Wilkington from Liverpool by the 9.17, though the 
Vidame thinks that is an invention of mine. So, you 



ADVENTURE OF THE LADY PATRONESS i6i 

see, I leave without any secrecy, or fuss, or luggage, 
and, when my husband comes here, he will find me 
flown, and will have to console himself with my lug- 
gage and jewels. He — this Frenchified beast, I 
mean — has written a note for your daughter, which 
he will give to her maid, and, of course, the maid 
will hand it to you. So he will have burned his 
boats. And then you can show it to Matilda, and 
so,* said Mrs. Brown-Smith, ' the miracle of opening 
her eyes will be worked. Johnnie, my husband, and 
I will be hungry when we return about half-past ten. 
And I think you had better telegraph that there 
is whooping cough, or bubonic plague, or something 
in the house, and put off your shooting party.' 

' But that would be an untruth,' said Mrs. Malory. 

'And what have I been acting for the last ten 
days ? ' asked Mrs. Brown-Smith, father tartly. ' You 
must settle your excuse with your conscience.' 

' The cook's mother really is ill,' said Mrs. Malory, 
' and she wants dreadfully to go and see her. That 
would do.' 

'AH things work together for good. The cook 
must have a telegram also,' said Mrs. Brown-Smith. 

The day, which had been extremely hot, clouded 
over. By five it was raining: by six there was a 
deluge. At seven, Matilda and the Vidame were 
evicted from their dusky window seat by the butler 
with a damp telegraph envelope. The Vidame 
opened it, and handed it to Matilda. His presence 
at Paris was instantly demanded. The Vidame was 
desolated, but his absence could not be for more than 
five days. Bradshaw was hunted for, and found : the 

11 



i62 THE DISENTANGLERS 

9.50 train was opportune. The Vidame's man packed 
his clothes. Mrs. Brown-Smith was apprised of these 
occurrences in the drawing-room before dinner. 

* I am very sorry for dear Matilda/ she cried. ' But 
it is an ill wind that blows nobody good. I will 
drive over with the Vidame and astonish my Johnnie 
by greeting him at the station. I must run and 
change my dress.' 

She ran, she returned in morning costume, she 
heard from Mrs. Malory of the summons by telegram 
calling the cook to her moribund mother. ' I must send 
her over to the station in a dog-cart/ said Mrs. Malory. 

' Oh no/ cried Mrs. Brown-Smith, with impetuous 
kindness, ' not on a night like this; it is a cataclysm. 
There will be plenty of room for the cook as well 
as for Methven and me, and the Vidame, in the 
brougham. Or he can sit on the box.' 

The Vidame really behaved very well. The intro- 
duction of the cook, to quote an old novelist, ' had 
formed no part of his profligate scheme of pleasure.' 
To elope from a hospitable roof, with a married lady, 
accompanied by her maid, might be an act not with- 
out precedent. But that a cook should come to form 
une partie carrie^ on such an occasion, that a lover 
should be squeezed with three women in a brougham, 
was a trying novelty. 

The Vidame smiled, ' An artist so excellent,' he 
said, ' deserves a far greater sacrifice.' 

So it was arranged. Afler a tender and solitary 
five minutes with Matilda, the Vidame stepped, last, 
into the brougham. The coachman whipped up the 
horses, Matilda waved her kerchief from the porch, 



ADVENTURE OF THE LADY PATRONESS 163 

the guilty lovers drove away. Presently Mrs. Malory 
received, from her daughter's maid, the letter destined 
by the Vidame for Matilda. Mrs. Malory locked it 
up in her despatch box. 

The runaways, after a warm and uncomfortable 
drive of three-quarters of an hour, during which the 
cook wept bitterly and was very unwell, reached the 
station. Contrary to the Vidame's wish, Mrs. Brown- 
Smith, in an ulster and a veil, insisted on perambu- 
lating the platform, buying the whole of Mr. Hall 
Caine's works as far as they exist in sixpenny edi- 
tions. Bells rang, porters stationed themselves in a 
line, like fielders, a train arrived, the 9.17 from Liver- 
pool, twenty minutes late. A short stout gentleman 
emerged from a smoking carriage, Mrs. Brown-Smith, 
starting from the Vidame's side, raised her veil, and 
threw her arms round the neck of the traveller. 

' You did n't expect me to meet you on such a night, 
did you, Johnnie?' she cried with a break in her voice. 

' Awfully glad to see you, Tiny,' said the short 
gentleman. ' On such a night ! ' 

After thus unconsciously quoting the Merchant of 
Venice^ Mr. Brown-Smith turned to his valet. ' Don't 
forget the fishing-rods,' he said. 

'I took the opportunity of driving over with a 
gentleman from Upwold,' said Mrs. Brown-Smith. 
' Let me introduce him. Methven,' to her maid, 
* where is the Vidame de la Lain ? ' 

' I heard him say that he must help Mrs. Andrews, 
the cook, to find a seat. Ma'am,' said the maid. 

' He really is kind,' said Mrs. Brown-Smith, ' but I 
fear we can't wait to say good-bye to him.' 



1 64 THE DISENT ANGLERS 

Three-quarters of an hour later, Mr. Brown-Smith 
and his wife were at supper at Upwold. 

Next day, as the cook's departure had postponed 
the shooting party, they took leave of their hostess, 
and returned to their moors in Perthshire. 

Weeks passed, with no message from the Vidame. 
He did not answer a letter which Mrs. Malory 
allowed Matilda to write. The mother never 
showed to the girl the note which he had left with 
her maid. The absence and the silence of the lover 
were enough. Matilda never knew that among the 
four packed in the brougham on that night of rain, 
one had been eloping with a married lady — who 
returned to supper. 

The papers were ' requested to state that the mar- 
riage announced between the Vidame de la Lain and 
Miss Malory will not take place.' Why it did not 
take place was known only to Mrs. Malory, Mrs. 
Brown-Smith, and Merton. 

Matilda thought that her lover had been kidnapped 
and arrested, by the Secret Police of France, for his 
part in a scheme to restore the Royal House, the 
White Flag, the Lilies, the children of St. Louis. At 
Mrs. Brown-Smith's place in Perthshire, in the follow- 
ing autumn, Matilda met Sir Alymer Jardine. Then 
she knew that what she had taken for love (in the 
previous year) had been, 

* Not love, but love's first flush in youth.* 

They always do make that discovery, bless them I 
Lady Jardine is now wrapped up in her baby boy. 
The mother of the cook recovered her health. 



IX 



ADVENTURE OF THE LADY NOVELIST AND THE 

VACCINATIONIST 

' TVyr R. FREDERICK WARREN ' — so Merton 

IVX read the card presented to him on a salver 
of Limoges enamel by the office-boy. 

' Show the gentleman in/ 

Mr. Warren entered. He was a tall and portly 
person, with afred face, red whiskers, and a tightly 
buttoned frock-coat, which more expressed than hid 
his goodly and prominent proportions. He bowed, 
and Merton invited him to be seated. It struck 
Merton as a singular circumstance that his visitor 
wore on each arm the crimson badge of the newly 
vaccinated. 

Mr. Warren sat down, and, taking a red silk hand- 
kerchief out of the crown of his hat, he wiped his 
countenance. The day was torrid, and Mr. Merton 
hospitably offered an effervescent draught. 

' Without the whisky, if you please, sir,' said Mr. 
Warren, in a provincial accent. He pointed to a blue 
ribbon in the buttonhole of his coat, indicating that 
he was conscientiously opposed to the use of alcoholic 
refreshment in all its forms. 

' Two glasses of Apollinaris water,' said Merton to 
the office-boy; and the innocent fluid was brought. 



1 66 THE DISENTANGLERS 

while Merton silently admired his client's arrange- 
ment in blue and crimson. When the thirst of that 
gentleman had been assuaged, he entered upon busi- 
ness thus : 

' Sir, I am a man of principle ! ' 

Merton congratulated him; the age was lax, he 
said, and principle was needed. He wondered inter- 
nally what he was going to be asked to subscribe to, 
or whether his vote only was required. 

'Sir, have you been vaccinated ?' asked the client 
earnestly. 

' Really,' said Merton, ' I do not quite understand 
your interest in a matter so purely personal.' 

' Personal, sir? Not at all. It is the first of public 
duties — the debt that every man, woman, and child 
owes to his or her country. Have you been vac- 
cinated, sir ? ' 

'Why, if you insist on knowing,' said Merton, 
' I have, though I do not sec ' 

* Recently?' asked the visitor. 

' Yes, last month ; but I cannot conjecture 

why * 

* Enough, sir,' said Mr. Warren. ' I am a man of 

principle. Had you not done your duty in this matter 
by your country, I should have been compelled to 
seek some other practitioner in your line.' 

' I was not aware that my firm had any competitors 
in our line of business,' said Merton. ' But perhaps 
you have come here under some misapprehension. 
There is a firm of family solicitors on the floor above, 
and next them are the offices of a company interested 
in a patent explosive. If your affairs, or your politi- 



ADVENTURE OF THE LADY NOVELIST 167 

cal ideas, demand a legal opinion, or an outlet in an 
explosive which is widely recommended by the Con- 
tinental Press ' 

* For what do you take me, sir? ' asked Mr. Warren. 

' For a Temperance Anarchist,* Merton would have 
liked to reply, * judging by your colours ' ; but he 
repressed this retort, and mildly answered, ' Perhaps 
it would be as much to the purpose to ask, for what 
do you take met' 

' For the representative of Messrs. Gray & Graham, 
the specialists in matrimonial affairs,' answered the cli- 
ent ; and Merton said that he would be happy if Mr. 
Warren would enter into the details of his business. 

' I am the ex-Mayor of Bulcester,' said Mr. Warren, 
' and, as I told you, a man of principle. My attach- 
ment to the Temperance cause ' — and he fingered 
his blue ribbon — 'procured for me the honour of a 
defeat at the last general election, but endeared me 
to the consciences of the Nonconformist element 
in the constituency. Yet, sir, I am at this moment 
the most unpopular man in Bulcester; but I shall 
fight it out — I shall fight it to my latest breath.' 

' Is Bulcester, then, such an intemperate constitu- 
ency? I had understood that the Nonconformist 
interest was strong there,' said Merton. 

' So it is, sir, so it is ; but the interest is now bound 
to the chariot wheels of the truckling Toryism of our 
time — to the sycophants who barely made vaccina- 
tion permissive, and paltered with the Conscientious 
Objector. These badges, sir' — the client pointed 
to his own crimson decorations — 'proclaim that I 
have been vaccinated on dotA arms, as a testimony 



1 68 THE DISENTANGLERS 

to the immortal though, in Bulcester, maligned dis- 
covery of the great Jenner. Sir, I am hooted in the 
public streets of my native town, where Anti-vaccina- 
tionism is a frenzy. Mr. Rider Haggard, the author of 
Dr. Theme^ has been burned in effigy for his thrilling 
and manly protest to which I owe my own conversion.' 

'Then the conversion is relatively recent? ' asked 
Merton. 

' It dates since my reading of that powerful argu- 
ment, sir ; that appeal to reason which overcame my 
prejudice, for I was a prominent A. V.' 

^ Avef^ asked Merton. 

* A. v., sir — Anti-Vaccinationist. A. C. D. A. too, 
and always,' he added proudly ; but Merton did not 
think it prudent to ask for further explanations. 

' An A. V. I was, an A. V. I am no longer ; and I 
defy popular clamour, accompanied by brickbats, to 
shake my principles.' 

*Justum et tanacem propositi virum^ murmured 
Merton, adding, ' All that is very interesting, but, my 
dear sir, while I admire the tenacity of your princi- 
ples, will you permit me to ask, what has vaccination 
to do with the special business of our firm? ' 

' Why, sir, I have a family, and my eldest son ' 

' Does he decline to be vaccinated?' asked Merton, 
in a sympathetic voice. 

* No, sir, or he would never darken my doorway,' 
exclaimed this more than Roman father. ' But he is 
engaged, and I can never give my consent; and 
if he marries that girl, the firm ceases to be " Warren 
& Son^ wax-cloth manufacturers." That 's all, sir — 
that's all.' 



ADVENTURE OF THE LADY NOVELIST 169 

Mr. Warren again applied his red handkerchief to 
his glowing features. 

' And what, may I ask, are the grounds of your 
objection to this engagement? Social inequality?' 
asked Merton. 

' No, the young lady is the daughter of one of our 
leading ministers, Mr. Truman — author of The 
Bishops to the Block — but principles are concerned.' 

'You cannot mean that the young lady is exces- 
sively addicted to the — wine cup?' asked Merton 
gravely. ' In melancholy cases of that kind Mr. Hall 
Caine, in a romance, has recommended h}rpnotic 
treatment, but we do not venture to interfere.' 

' You misunderstand me, sir,' replied Mr. Warren, 
frowning. ' The young woman, on principle, as they 
call it, has never been vaccinated. Like most of our 
prominent citizens, her father (otherwise an excellent 
man) objects to what he calls " The Worship of the 
Calf" on grounds of conscience.' 

' Conscience ! It is a hard thing to constrain the 
conscience,' murmured Merton, quoting a remark of 
Queen Mary to John Knox. 

' What is conscience without knowledge, sir? ' asked 
the client, using — without knowing it — the very 
argument of Mr. Knox to the Queen. 

'You have no other objections to the alliance?' 
asked Merton. 

' None whatever, sir. She is a good and good-look- 
ing girl. On most important points we are thoroughly 
agreed. She won a prize essay on Bacon's author- 
ship of Shakespeare's plays. Of course Shakespeare 
could not have written them — a thoroughly unedu- 



I70 THE DISENTANGLERS 

cated man, who never could have passed the fourth 
standard. But look at the plays ! There are things 
in them that, with all our modern advantages, are 
beyond me. I admit they are beyond me. " To be, 
and to do, and to suffer," * declaimed Mr. Warren, 
apparently under the impression that this is part of 
Hamlet's soliloquy — 'Shakespeare could never have 
written that. Where did he learn grammar ? ' 

'Where, indeed?* replied Merton. * But as the 
lady is in all other respects so suitable a match, can- 
not this one difficulty be got over?' 

' Impossible, sir ; my son could not slice the sleeve 
in her dress and inflict this priceless boon on her 
with affectionate violence. Even the hero of Dr. 
Theme failed there ' 

' And rather irritated his pretty Jane,' added Mer- 
ton, who remembered this heroic adventure. 'It is 
a very hard case,' he went on, ' but I fear that our 
methods are powerless. The only chance would be 
to divert young Mr. Warren's affections into some 
other more enlightened channel. That expedient has 
often been found efficacious. Is he very deeply en- 
amoured ? Would not the society of another pretty 
and intelligent girl perhaps work wonders?' 

' Perhaps it might, sir, but I don't know where to 
find any one that would attract my James. Except for 
political meetings, and a literary lecture or two, with 
a magic-lantern and a piano, we have not much social 
relaxation at Bulcester. We object to promiscuous 
dancing, on grounds of conscience. Also, of course, 
to the stage.' 

' Ah, so you do allow for the claims of consciencCi 
do you?' 



ADVENTURE OF THE LADY NOVELIST 171 

'For what do you take me, sir? Only, of course 
the conscience must be enlightened,' said Mr. War- 
ren, as other earnest people usually do. 

'Certainly, certainly/ said Merton; ' nothing so 
dangerous as the unenlightened conscience. Why, 
in this very matter of marriage the conscience of the 
Mormons leads them to singular aberrations, while 
that of the Arunta tribe — but I should only pain you 
if I pursued the subject. You said that your Society 
indulged in literary lectures : is your programme for 
the season filled up?' 

* I am President of the Bulcester Literary Society,' 
said Mr. Warren, * and I ought to know. We have a 
vacancy for Friday week ; but why do you inquire ? 
In fact I want a lecturer on " The Use and Abuse of 
Novels," now you ask. Our people, somehow, always 
want their literary lectures to be about novels. I try 
to make the lecturers take a lofty moral tone, and 
usually entertain them at my house, where I probe 
their ideas, and warn them that we must have nothing 
loose. Once, sir, we had a lecturer on " The Oldest 
Novel in the World." He gave us a terrible shock, 
sir I I never saw so many red cheeks in a Bulcester 
audience. And the man seemed quite unaware of the 
effect he was producing.' 

'Short-sighted, perhaps?' said Merton. 

' Ever since we have been very careful. But, sir, 
we seem to have got away from the subject.' « 

' It is only seeming,' said Merton. ' I have an idea 
which may be of service to you.' 

' Thank you, most kindly,' said Mr. Warren. ' But 
as how ? ' 



1 7a THE DISENTANGLERS 

* Does your Society ever employ lady lecturers?* 

*We prefer them; we are all for enlarging the 
sphere of woman's activity — virtuous activity, I 
mean.' 

'That is fortunate/ remarked Merton. 'You said 
just now that to try the plan of a counter-attraction 
was difficulty because there was little of social relaxa- 
tion in your Society, and you knew no lady who had 
the opportunities necessary for presenting an agree- 
able alternative to the charms of Miss Truman. A 
young man's fancy is often caught merely by the 
juxtaposition of a single member of the opposite sex, 
with whom he contracts a custom of walking home 
from chapel.' 

'That's mostly the way at Bulcester,' said Mr. 
Warren. 

' Well,' Merton went on, ' you are in the habit of 
entertaining the lecturers at your house. Now, I 
know a young lady — one of our staff, in fact — who 
is very well qualified to lecture on "The Use and 
Abuse of Novels." She is a novelist herself; one of 
the most serious and improving of our younger 
writers. In her works virtue (after struggles) is al- 
ways rewarded, and vice (especially if gilded) is held 
up to execration, though never allowed to display 
itself in colours which would bring a blush to the 
cheek of — a white rabbit. Here is her portrait,' said 
Merton, taking up a family periodical. The Young GirL 
This blameless journal was publishing a serial story 
by Miss Martin, one of the ladies who had been en- 
listed at the dinner given by Logan and Merton when 
they founded their Society. A photograph of Miss 



ADVENTURE OF THE LADY NOVELIST 173 

Martin, in white and in a large shadowy hat, was 
published in The Young Girl^ and certainly no one 
could have recognised in this conscientiously inno- 
cent and domestic portrait the fair author of romances 
of social adventure and unimagined crime. ' There 
you see our young friend/ said Merton; 'and the 
magazine, to which she is a regular contributor, is a 
voucher for her character as an author.' 

Mr. Warren closely scrutinised the portrait, which 
displayed loveliness and candour in a very agreeable 
way, and arranged in the extreme of modest sim- 
plicity. 

' That is a young woman who bears her testimo- 
nials in her face,' said Mr. Warren. ' She is one whom 
a father can trust — but has she been vaccinated?' 

'Early and often,' answered Merton reassuringly. 
' Girls with faces like hers do not care to run any 
risks.' 

' Jane Truman does, though my son has put it to 
her, I know, on the ground of her looks. ** Nothings' 
she said, " will ever induce me to submit to that filthy, 
that revolting operation." ' 

'"Conscience doth make cowards of us all," as 
Bacon says,' replied Merton, ' or at least of such of 
us as are unenlightened. But to come to business. 
What do you think of asking our young friend down 
to lecture — on Friday week, I think you said — on 
the Use and Abuse of Novels? You could easily per- 
suade her, I dare say, to stay over Sunday — longer 
if necessary — and then young Mr. Warren would at 
least find out that there is more than one young 
woman in the world.' 



174 THE DISENTANGLERS 

' I shall be delighted to see your friend,' answered 
Mr. Warren. 'At Bulcester we welcome intellect, 
and a real novelist of moral tendencies would make 
quite a sensation in our midst' 

'They are but too scarce at present,' Merton 
answered — ' novelists of high moral tone.' 

' She is not a Christian Scientist?' asked Mr. War- 
ren anxiously. ' They reject vaccination, like all other 
means appointed, and rely on miracles, which ceased 
with the Apostolic age, being no longer necessary.' 

'The lady, I can assure you, is not a Christian 
Scientist,' said Merton ' but comes of an Evangelical 
family. Shall I give you her address ? In my opinion 
it would be best to write to her from Bulcester, on the 
official paper of the Literary Society.' For Merton 
wished to acquaint Miss Martin with the nature of her 
mission, lecturing being an art which she had never 
X cultivated. 

'There is just one thing,' remarked Mr. Warren 
hesitatingly. ' This young lady, if our James lets his 
affections loose on her — how would that be, sir ? ' 

Merton smiled. 

' Why, no great harm would be done, Mr. Warren. 
You need not fear any complication : any new mat- 
rimonial difficulty. The affection would be all on one 
side, and that side would not be the lady lecturer's. 
I happen to know that she has a prior attachment' 

' Vaccinated ! ' cried Mr. Warren, letting a laugh 
out of him. 

' Exactly,' said Merton. 

Mr. Warren now gladly concurred in the plan 
of his adviser, after which the interview was con- 



ADVENTURE OF THE LADY NOVELIST 175 

cerned with financial details. Merton usually left 
these vague, but in Mr. Warren he saw a client who 
would feel more confidence if everything was put on 
a strictly business footing. The client retired in a 
hopeful frame of mind, and Merton went to look for 
Miss Martin at her club, where she was usually to be 
found at the hour of tea. 

He was fortunate enough to find her, dressed by 
no means after the style of her portrait in The Young 
Girl, but still very well dressed. She offered him the 
refreshment of tea and toast — very good toast, Merton 
thought — and he asked how her craft as a novelist 
was prospering. Friends of Miss Martin were obliged 
to ask, for they did not read The Young Girl, or the 
other and less domestic serials in which her works 
appeared. 

' I am doing very well, thank you,' said Miss Martin. 
' My tale The Curate's Family has raised the circula- 
tion of The Young Girl; and, mind you, it is no easy 
thing for a novelist to raise the circulation of any peri- 
odical. For example, if The Quarterly Review pub- 
lished a new romance, even by Mr. Thomas Hardy, 
I doubt if the end would justify the proceedings.* 

' It would take about four years to get finished in a 
quarterly,' said Merton. 

* And the nonagenarians who read quarterlies,' said 
Miss Martin, with the flippancy of youth, 'would 
go to their graves without knowing whether the hero- 
ine found a lenient jury or not. I have six heroines 
in The Curate's Family, and I own their love affairs 
tend to get a little mixed. I have rigged up a small 
stage, with puppets in costume to represent the char- 



176 THE DISENTANGLERS 

acters, and keep them straight in my mind; but 
Ethelinda, who is engaged to the photographer, as 
nearly as possible eloped with the baronet last week.' 

'Anything else on?' asked Merton. 

*An up-to-date story, all heredity and evolution/ 
said Miss Martin. ' The father has his legs bitten off 
by a shark, and it gets on the nerves of his wife, the 
Marchioness, and two of the girls are born like mer- 
maids. They have immense popularity at bathing- 
places on the French coast, but it is not easy for them 
to go into general society.' 

' What nonsense I ' exclaimed Merton. 

* Not worse than other stuff that is highly recom- 
mended by eminent reviewers,' said Miss Martin. 

' Anything else ? ' 

' Oh, yes ; there is " The Pope's Poisoner, a Tale of 
the Borgias." That is a historical romance, I got it 
up out of Histories of the Renaissance. The hero 
(Lionardo da Vinci) is the Pope's bravo, and in love 
with Lucrezia Borgia.' 

'Are the dates all right?' asked Merton. 

' Oh, bother the dates ! Of course he is a bravo 
pourle ban motif , and frustrates the pontifical designs.' 

' I want you,' said Merton, ' you have such a fertile 
imagination, to take part in a little plot of our own. 
Beneficent, of course, but I admit that my fancy is 
bafHed. Could we find a room less crowded ? This 
is rather private business.' 

'There is never anybody in the smoking-room 
at the top of the house,' said Miss Martin, 'be- 
cause — to let out a secret — none of us ever smoke, 
except at public dinners to give tone. 'Rut you may.' 



ADVENTURE OF THE LADY NOVELIST 177 

She led Merton to a sepulchral little chamber 
upstairs, and he told her all the story of Mr. Warren, 
his son, and the daughter of the minister. 

* Why don't they elope ? ' asked Miss Martin. 

' The Nonconformist conscience is unfriendly to 
elopements, and the young man has no accomplish- 
ment by which he could support his bride except the 
art of making oilcloth.' 

* Well, what do you want me to do?' 

Merton unfolded the scheme of the lady lecturer, 
and prepared Miss Martin to receive an invitation 
from Mr. Warren. 

' Can you write a lecture on " The Use and Abuse 
of Novels" before Friday week?' he asked. 

' Say seven thousand words? I could do it by 
to-morrow morning,' said Miss Martin. 

* You know you must be very careful ? ' 

' Style of answers to correspondents in The Young 
Girl^ said Miss Martin. * I know my way about.' 
' Then you really will essay the adventure? ' 
' Like a bird,' answered the lady. ' It will be great 
fun. I shall pick up copy about the habits of the 
middle classes in the Midlands.' 

* They won't recognise you as the author of your 
more criminal romances?' 

' How can they? I sign them "Passion Flower" 
and " Nightshade," and " La Tofana," and so on.* 

'You will dress as in your photograph in Th$ 
Young Girlt* 

'Twill, and tdke^ificku to wear in the evening. 

They always wear fichus in evening dress. But, look 

here, do you want a happy ending to this romance ? ' 

12 



178 THE DISENTANGLERS 

' How can it be happy if you are to be successful ? 
Miss Jane Truman will be miserable, and Mr. James 
Warren will die of remorse and a broken heart, 
when you * 

' Fail to crown his flame, and Jane has too much 
pride to welcome back the wanderer?' 

' I 'm afraid that, or something like that, will be the 
end of it,' said Merton, ' and, perhaps, on reflection, 
we had better drop the affair.' 

'But suppose I could manage a happy ending? 
Suppose I reconcile Mr. Warren to the union? I am 
all for happy endings myself. I drink to King 
Charles II., who declared that while he was king all 
tragedies should end happily.' 

' You don't mean that you can persuade Jane to be 
vaccinated?' 

' One never knows till one tries. You '11 find that 
I shall make a happy conclusion to my Borgia novel, 
and that is not so easy. You see Lionardo goes to 
the Pope's jeweller and exchanges the ' 

Miss Martin paused and remained absorbed in 
thought. 

Suddenly she danced round the room with much 
grace and abandon^ while Merton, smoking in an 
armchair that had lost a castor, gently applauded 
the performance. 

* You have your idea?' he asked. 

' I have it. Happy ending I Hurrah ! ' 

Miss Martin spun round like a dancing Dervish, and 
finally fell into another armchair, overcome by the 
heat and the intoxication of genius. 

'We owe a candle to Saint Alexander Borgia !' she 
said, when she recovered her breath. 



ADVENTURE OF THE LADY NOVELIST 179 

*Miss Martin/ said Merton gravely, 'this is a 
serious matter. You are not going, I trust, to poison 
the lemons for the elder Mr. Warren's lemon squash ? 
He is strictly Temperance, you know.' 

' Poison the lemons ? With a hypodermic syringe ? ' 
asked Miss Martin. ' No ; that is good business. 
I have made one of my villains do that^ but that is 
not my idea. Perfectly harmless, my idea.' 

' But sensational, I fear ? ' asked Merton. 

' Some very cultured critics might think so,' the 
lady admitted. ' But I am sure to succeed, and I 
hear the merry, merry wedding bells of the Bulcester 
tabernacle ringing a peal for the happy pair.' 

* Well, what is the plan? ' 

* That is my secret.' 

' But I must know. I am responsible. Tell me, 
or I telegraph to Mr. Warren: "Lecturer never 
vaccinated ; sorry for my mistake." ' 

' That would not be true,' said Miss Martin. 

* A noble falsehood,' said Merton. 

^ But I assure you that if my plan fails no harm can 
possibly be caused or suspected. And if it succeeds 
then the thing is done : either Mr. Warren is recon- 
ciled to the marriage, or — the marriage is broken 
off, as he desires.' 

'By whom?' 

' By the Conscientious Objectrix, if that is the 
feminine of Objector — by Miss Jane Truman.' 

' Why should Jane break it off if the old gentleman 
agrees?' 

' Because Jane would be a silly girl. Mr. Merton, 
I will promise you one thing. The plan shall not be 



i8o THE DISENTANGLERS 

tried without the approval of the lover himself. None 
but he shall be concerned in the affair.' 

' You won't hypnotise the girl and let him vaccinate 
her when she is in the hypnotic sleep ? ' 

'No, nor even will I give her a post-hypnotic 
suggestion to vaccinate herself, or go to the doctor's 
and have it done when she is awake ; though/ said 
Miss Martin, ' that is not bad business either. I must 
make a note of that. But I can't hypnotise anybody. 
I tried lots of girls when I was at St. Ursula's and 
nothing ever came of it. Thank you for the idea all 
the same. By the way, I first must sterilise the pon- 
tifical ' She paused. 

'The what?' 

'That is my secret ! Don't you see how safe it is? 
None but the lover shall have his and her fate in his 
hands. Cest d prendre ou d laisserJ 

Merton was young and adventurous. 

' You give me your word that your idea is absolutely 
safe and harmless? It involves no crime?' 

' None ; and if you like,' said Miss Martin, ' I will 
bring you the highest professional opinion,' and she 
mentioned an eminent name in the craft of healing. 
' He was our doctor when we were children,' said the 
lady, ' and we have always been friends.' 

' Well,' Merton said, ' what is good enough for Sir 
Josiah Wilkinson is good enough for me- But you 
will bring me the document ? ' 

' The day afler to-morrow,' said Miss Martin, and 
with that assurance Merton had to be content. 

Sir Josiah was almost equally famous in the world 
as a physician and, in a smaller but equally refined 



ADVENTURE OF THE LADY NOVELIST i8i 

circle, as a virtuoso and collector of objects of art. 
His opinions about the beneficent effects of vaccina- 
tion were known to be at the opposite pole from 
those of the intelligent population of Bulcester. 

On the next day but one Miss Martin again enter- 
tained Merton at her club, and demurely presented 
him with three documents. These were Mr. Warren's 
invitation, her reply in acceptance, and a formal 
signed statement by Sir Josiah that her scheme was 
perfectly harmless, and commanded his admiring 
approval. 

' Now I ' said Miss Martin. 

* I own that I don't like it,' said Merton. ' Logan 
thinks that it is all right, but Logan is a born con- 
spirator. However, as you are set on it, and as 
Sir Josiah's opinion carries great weight, you may 
go. But be very careful. Have you written your 
lecture?' 

' Here is the scenario,' said Miss Martin, handing 
a typewritten synopsis to Merton. 

'Use and Abuse of Novels. 

'AH good things capable of being abused. Alcohol 
not one of these ; alcohol always pernicious. Fiction, 
on the other hand, a good thing. Antiquity of fiction. 
In early days couched in verse. Civilisation prefers 
prose. Fiction, from the earlier ages, intended to 
convey Moral Instruction. Opinion of Aristotle de- 
fended against that of Plato. Morality in mediaeval 
Romance. Criticism of Mr. Frederic Harrison. 
Opinion of Molifere. Yet French novels usually im- 



i82 THE DISENTANGLERS 

moral, and why. Remarks on Popery. To be 
avoided. Morality of Richardson and of Sir Wal- 
ter Scott. Impropriety re-introduced by Charlotte 
Bronte. Unwillingness of Lecturer to dwell on this 
Topic. The Novel is now the whole of Literature. 
The people have no time to read anything else. 
Responsibilities of the Novelist as a Teacher. The 
Novel the proper vehicle of Theological, Scientific, 
Social, and Political Instruction. Mr. Hall Caine, 
Miss Corelli. Fallacy of thinking that the Novel 
should Amuse. Abuse of the Novel as a source of 
mischievous and false Opinions. Case of Tlie Woman 
Who Did. Sacredness of Marriage. Study of the 
Novel becomes an abuse if it leads to the Neglect 
of the Morning and Evening Newspapers. Sir Walter 
Besant on the Novel. None but the newest Novels 
ought to be read. Mr. W. D. Howells on this sub- 
ject Experience of the Lecturer as a Novelist. 
Gratifying letters from persons happily influenced 

by the Lecturer. Anecdotes. Case of Miss A 

C . Case of Mr. J R , Unhappy Endings 

demoralising* Marriage the true End of the Novel, 
but the beginning of the happy life. Lecturer wishes 
her audience happy Endings and true Beginnings. 
Conclusion.' 

'Will that do?' asked Miss Martin anxiously* 

' Yes, if you don't exceed your plan, or run into 
chaff.' 

' I won't,' said Miss Martin. ' It is all chaff, but 
they won't see it.' 

'I think I would drop that about Popery,' said 
Merton — ' it may lead to letters in the newspapers ; 



ADVENTURE OF THE LADY NOVELIST 183 

and do be awfully careful about impropriety in 
novels.' 

*I*11 put in "Vice to be Condemned, not De- 
scribed/' ' said Miss Martin, pencilling a note on the 
margin of her paper. 

' That seems safe/ said Merton. ' But it cuts out 
some of our most powerful teachers/ 

' Serve them right ! ' said Miss Martin. ' Teachers t 
the arrant humbugs.' 

*You will report at once on your return?' said 
Merton. ' I shall be on tenter-hooks till I see you 
again. If I knew what you are really about, I 'd take 
counsel's opinion. Medical opinion does not satisfy 
me : I want legal.' 

' How nervous you are ! ' said Miss Martin. ' ' Coun- 
sel would be rather stuck up, I think ; it is a new kind of 
case,' and the lady laughed in an irritating way. ' I '11 
tell you what I '11 do,' she said. ' I '11 telegraph to 
you on the Monday morning after the lecture. If 
ever)^ing goes well, I '11 telegraph, " Happy ending." 
If anything goes wrong — but it can't — I '11 telegraph, 
" Unhappy ending/' * 

' If you do, I shall be off to Callao. 

On no condition 
Is Extradition 
Allowed in Callao/* 

said Merton. 

* But if there is any uncertainty — and there may 
be,' said Miss Martin, * I '11 telegraph, "Will report. 



II I 



Merton passed a miserable week of suspense and 
perplexity of mind. Never had he been so impni- 



1 84 THE DISENTANGLERS 

dent ; he felt sure of that, and it was the only thing 
of which he did feel sure. The newspapers contained 
bulletins of an epidemic of smallpox at Bulcester. 
How would that work into the plot? Then the high 
animal spirits and daring fancy of Miss Martin might 
carry her into undreamed-of adventures. 

* But they won't let her have even a glass of cham- 
pagne/ reflected Merton. ' One glass makes her reck- 
less.' 

It was with a trembling hand that Merton, about 
ten on the Monday morning, took the telegraphic 
envelope of Fate. 

' I can't face it/ he said to Logan. ' Read the mes- 
sage to me.' • Merton was unmanned I 

Logan carelessly opened the envelope and read : 

' Happy endings but awfully disappointed. Will call 
at one o'clock.* 

'Oh, thanks to all gracious Powers/ said Merton, 
falling limply on to a sofa. ' Ring, Logan, and 
order a small whisky-and-soda.' 

' I won't,' said Logan. ' Horrid bad habit Would 
you like me to send out for smelling-salts? Be a man, 
Merton ! Pull yourself together ! ' 

'You don't know that awful girl,' said Merton, 
slowly recovering self-controL 'However, as she is 
disappointed though the ending is happy, her infer- 
nal plan must have been miscarried, whatever it was. 
It must be all right, though I sha'n't be quite happy 
till I see her. I am no coward, Logan ' (and Merton 
was later to prove that he possessed coolness and 
audacity in no common measure), 'but it is the awful 
sense of responsibility. She is quite capable of getting 
us into the newspapers.' 



ADVENTURE OF THE LADY NOVELIST 185 

* You funk being laughed at/ said Logan. 

Merton lay on the sofa, smoking too many cigar- 
ettes, till, punctually at one o'clock, a peal at the bell 
announced the arrival of Miss Martin. She entered, 
radiant, smiling, and in her costume of innocence 
she looked like a sylph. 

' It is all right — they are engaged, with Mr. War- 
ren's full approval,' she exclaimed. 

' Were we on the stage, I should embrace you ! ' 
exclaimed Merton rapturously. 

' We are not on the stage,' replied Miss Martin de- 
murely. ' And /have no occasion to congratulate my- 
self. My plot did not come off; never had a look in. 
Do you want to be vaccinated? If so, shake hands,' 
and Miss Martin extended her own hands ungloved. 

' I do not want to be vaccinated,' said Merton. 

' Then don't shake hands,' said Miss Martin. 

' What on earth do you mean?' asked Merton. 

* Look there ! ' said the lady, lifting her hand to his 
eyes. Merton kissed it. 

' Oh, fake care I ' shrieked Miss Martin. ' It would 
be awkward — on the lips. Do you see my ring? ' 

Merton and Logan examined her ring. It was a 
beautiful cinque cento jewel in white and blue enamel, 
with a high gold top containing a pointed ruby. 

* It *s very pretty,' said Merton — * quite of the best 
period. But what is the mystery? ' 

' It is a poison ring of the Borgias,' said Miss Mar- 
tin. ' I borrowed it from Sir Josiah Wilkinson. If it 
scratched you ' (here she exhibited the mechanism 
of the jewel), ' why, there you are I * 

'Where? Poisoned?' 



i86 THE DISENTANGLERS 

^ No I Vaccinated t ' said Miss Martin. ' It is full 
of the stuff they vaccinate you with, but it is quite 
safe as far as the old poison goes. Sir Josiah ster- 
ilised it, in case of accidents, before he put in the 
glycerinated lymph. My own ideal He was de- 
lighted. Shall I shake hands with the office-boy? — 
it might do him good — or would Kutuzoff give a 
paw?' 

Kutuzoff was the Russian cat 

'By no means — not for worlds/ said Merton. 
* Kutuzoff is a Conscientious Objector. But were you 
going to shake hands with Miss Truman with that 
horrible ring? Sacred emblems enamelled on it/ 
said Merton, gingerly examining the jewel. 

'No; I was not going to do that/ replied Miss 
Martin. * My idea was to acquire the confidence of 
the lover — the younger Mr. Warren — explain to him 
how the thing works, lend it to him, and then let him 
press his Jane's wrist with it in some shady arbour. 
Then his Jane would have been all that the heart of 
Mr. Warren ph'e could desire. But it did not come off.' 

' Thank goodness ! ' ejaculated Merton. ' There 
might have been an awful row. I don't know what 
the offence would have been in the eye of the law. 
Vaccinating a Conscientious Objector, without con- 
sent, yet without violence, — what would the law say 
to that r* 

' We might make it hamesucken under trust in 
Scotland/ said Logan» ' if it was done on the prem- 
ises of the young lady's domicile.' 

'We have not that elegant phrase in England/ 
said Merton. 'Perhaps it would have been a com- 



ADVENTURE OF THE LADY NOVELIST 187 

mon assault ; but, anyhow, it would have got into the 
newspapers. Never again be officer of mine, Miss 
Martin.' 

' But how did all end happily?' asked Logan. 

' Why, you may call it happily and so may the lov- 
ers, but / call it very disappointing,' said Miss Martin. 

' Tell us all about it ! ' cried Logan. 

' Well, I went down, simple as you see me.' 

' Sitnplix munditiisy said Merton. 

* And was met at the station by young Mr. Warren. 
His father, with the wisdom of a Nonconformist ser- 
pent, had sent him alone to make my acquaintance 
and be fascinated. My things were put on a four- 
wheeler. I was all young enthusiasm in the manner of 
The Young GirL He was a good-looking boy enough, 
though in a bowler hat, with turn-down collar. But 
he was gloomy. I was curious about the public 
buildings, ecstatic about the town hall, and a kind of 
Moeso-Gothic tabernacle (if it was not Moeso-Gothic 
in style I don't know what it was) where the Rev. Mr. 
Truman holds forth. But I could not waken him 
up, he seemed miserable. I soon found out the 
reason. The placards of the local newspapers 
shrieked in big type with 

Spread of Smallpox. 
135 Cases. 

When I saw that I took young Mr. Warren's hand.' 
' Were you wearing the ring? ' asked Merton. 
'No; it was in my dressing-bag. I said, "Mr. 
Warren, I know what care clouds your brow. You 
are brooding over the fate of the young, the fair, the 



i88 THE DISENTANGLERS 

beloved — the unvaccinated. I know the story of 
your heart." 

' " How the D 1 mean, how do you know, Miss 

Martin, about my private affairs?" 

'"A little bird has told me," I said (style of Tlu 
Young Girl^ you know). "I have friends in Bulces- 
ter who esteem you. No, I must not mention names, 
but I come, not too late, I hope, to bring you security. 
She shall be preserved from this awful scourge, and 
you shall be her preserver." He wanted to know 
how it was to be done, of course, and after taking his 
word of honour for secrecy, I told him that the remedy 
would lie in his own hands, showed him the ring, and 
taught him how to work it Mr. Squeers, ' went on 
Miss Martin, ' had never wopped a boy in a cab before, 
and I had never beheld a scene of passionate emotion 
before — in a four-wheeler. He called me his pre- 
server, he said that I was an angel, he knelt at my 
feet, and, if we had been on the stage — as Mr. Mer- 
ton said ' 

' And were you on the stage ? ' asked Merton. 

' That is neither here nor there. It was an instruc- 
tive experience, and you little know the treasures of 
passion that may lie concealed in the heart of a young 
oilcloth manufacturer.' 

* Happy young oilcloth manufacturer ! * murmured 
Merton. 

' They are both happy, but I did not manage my 
fortunate conclusion in my own way. When young 
Mr. Warren had moderated the transports of his 
gratitude we were in the suburbs of Bulcester, where 
the mill-owners live in houses of the most promiscu- 



ADVENTURE OF THE LADY NOVELIST 189 

ous architecture: Tudor, Jacobean, Queen Anne, 
Bedford Park Queen Anne, chalets^ Chineseries, " all 
standing naked in the open air," for the trees have 
not grown up round them yet. Then we came to 
a gate without a lodge, the cabman got down and 
opened it, and we were in the visible presence of Mr. 
Warren's villa. The style is the Scottish Baronial; 
all pepper-pots, gables and crowsteps. 

' " What a lovely old place ! " I said to my com- 
panion. '' Have you secret passages and sliding 
panels and dark turnpike stairs? What a house for 
conspiracies ! There is a real turret window ; can't 
you fancy it suddenly shot up and the king's face 
popped out, very red, and bellowing, ' Treason ! ' " 

' At that moment, when my imagination was in full 
career, the turret window was shot up, and a face, 
v^ry red, with red whiskers, was popped out 

* " That is my father," said young Mr. Warren ; and 
we alighted, and a very small maidservant opened 
the portals of the baronial hall, while the cabman 
carried up my trunk, and Mr. Warren, senior, greeted 
me in the hall. 

' *' Welcome to Bulcester ! " he said, with a florid 
air, and " hoped James and I had made friends on 
the way," and then he actually winked ! He is a 
widower, and I was dying for tea, but there we sat, 
and when the little maid came in, it was to say that 
a gentleman wanted to see Mr. Warren in the study. 
So he went out, and then, James being the victim of 
gratitude, I took my courage in both hands and 
asked if I might have tea. James said that they usu- 
ally had it after the lecture was over, which would not 



I90 THE DISENTANGLERS 

be till nine, and that some people had been asked 
to meet me. Then I knew that I was got among a 
strange, outlandish race who eat strange meats and 
keep High Teas, and my spirit fainted within me. 

* " Oh, Mr. James ! " I said, " if you love me have 
a cup of tea and some bread-and-butter sent up to my 
room, and tell the maid to show me the way to it" 

' So he sent for her, and she showed me to the best 
spare room, with oleographs of Highland scenery on 
the walls, and coloured Landseer prints, and tartan 
curtains, and everything made of ormolu that can be 
made of ormolu. In about twenty minutes the girl 
returned with tea and poached eggs and toast, and 
jam and marmalade. So I dressed for the lecture, 
which was to begin at eight — just when people 
ought to be dining — and came down into the draw- 
ing-room. The elder Mr. Warren was sitting alone, 
reading the Daily News, and he rose with an air 
of happy solemnity and shook hands again. 

' '' You can let James alone now. Miss Martin," 
he said, and he winked again, rubbed his hands, and 
grinned all over his expansive face. 

' " Let James alone ! " I said. 

' " Yes ; don't go upsetting the lad — he 's not used 
to young ladies like you. You leave James to him- 
self. James will do very well. I have a little surprise 
for James." 

' He certainly had a considerable surprise for me, 
but I merely asked if it was James's birthday, which 
it was not. 

' Luckily James entered. All his gloom was gone, 
thanks to me, and he was remarkably smiling and 



ADVENTURE OF THE LADY NOVELIST 191 

particularly attentive to myself. Mr. Warren seemed 
perplexed. 

'"James, have you heard any good news?" he 
asked. " You seem very gay all of a sudden." 

' James caught my eye. 

' " No, father," he said. " What news do you mean? 
Anything in business ? A large order from Sarawak ? " 

' Mr. Warren was silent, but presently took me 
into a corner on the pretence of showing me some 
horrible objet (tart — a treacly bronze. 

' " I say," he said, " you must have made great 
play in the cab coming from the station. James 
looks a new man. I never would have guessed him 
to be so fickle. But, mind you, no more of it ! Let 
James be — he will do very well " 

' How was James to do very well ? Why were my 
fascinations not to be exercised, as per contract? 
I began to suspect the worst, and I was thinking 
of nothing else while we drove to the premises of the 
Bulcester Literary Society. Could Jane have drowned 
herself out of the way, or taken smallpox, which 
might ruin her charms? Well, I had not a large 
audience, on account of fear of infection, I suppose, 
and all the people present wore the red badge, like 
Mr- Warren, only he wore one on each arm. This 
somewhat amazed me, but as I had never spoken in 
public before I was rather in a flutter. However, 
I conquered my girlish shyness, and if the audience 
was not large it was enthusiastic. When I came to 
the peroration about wishing them all happy endings 
and real beginnings of true life, don't you know, the 
audience actually rose at me, and cheered like any- 



193 THE DISENTANGLERS 

thing. Then someone proposed, "Three cheers for 
young Warren/' and they gave them like mad ; I did 
not know why, nor did he: he looked quite pale. 
Then his father, with tears in his voice, proposed 
a vote of thanks to me, and said that he and the 
brave hearts of old Bulcester, his old friends and 
brothers in arms, were once more united; and the 
people stormed the platform and shook his hand and 
slapped him on the back. At last we got out by 
a back way, where our cab was waiting. Young 
Mr. Warren was as puzzled as myself, and his father 
was greatly overcome and sobbing in a corner. We 
got into the house, where people kept arriving, and 
at last a fine old clerical-looking bird entered with 
a red badge on one arm and a very pretty girl 
in white on the other. She had a red badge too. 

' Young Mr. Warren, who was near me when they 
came in, gave a queer sort of cry, and then I under- 
stood! The girl was his Jane, and she had been 
vaccinated, also her father, that afternoon, owing 
to the awful panic the old man got into after reading 
the evening papers about the smallpox. The gentle- 
man whom Mr. Warren went to see in the study, just 
after my arrival, had brought him this gratifying 
intelligence, and he had sent the gentleman back 
to ask the Trumans to a High Tea of reconciliation. 
The people at the lecture had heard of this, and that 
was why they cheered so for young Warren, because 
his affair was as commonly known to all Bulcester 
as that of Romeo and Juliet at Verona. They are 
hearty people at Bulcester, and not without elements 
of old English romance. 



ADVENTURE OF THE LADY NOVELIST 193 

' Old Mr. Warren publicly embraced Jane Truman, 
and then brought her and presented her to me as 
James's bride. We both cried a little, I think, and 
then we all sat down to High Tea, and I am scarcely 
yet the woman I used to be. It was a height I And 
a weight! And a length 1 After tea Mr. Warren 
made a speech, and said that Bulcester had come 
back to him, and I was afraid that he would brag 
dreadfully, but he did not ; he was too happy, I think. 
And then Mr. Truman made a speech and said that 
though they felt obliged to own that they had come 
to the conclusion that though Anti-vaccination was a 
holy thing, still (in the circumstances) vaccination 
was good enough. But they yet clung to principles 
for which Hampden died on the field, and Russell on 
the scaffold, and many of their own citizens in bed I 
There must be no Coercion. Everyone who liked 
must be allowed to have smallpox as much as he 
pleased. All other issues were unimportant except 
that of freedom ! 

' Here I rose — I was rather excited — and said 
that I hoped the reverend speaker was not deserting 
the sacred principle of compulsory temperance? 
Would the speaker allow people freedom to drink? 
All other issues were unimportant compared with 
that of freedom, except the interest of depriving a 
poor man of his beer. To catch smallpox was 
a Briton's birthright, but not to take a modest 
quencher. No freedom to drink ! " Down with the 
drink I " I cried, and drained my tea-cup, and waved 
it, amidst ringing cheers. Mr. Truman admitted 
that there were exceptions — one exception, at least 

13 



194 THE DISENTANGLERS 

Disease must be free to all, not alcohol nor Ritualism. 
He thanked his young friend the gifted lecturer for 
recalling him to his principles. 

* The principles of the good old cause, the Puritan 
cause, were as pure as glycerinated lymph, and he 
proposed to found a Liberal Vaccinationist League. 
They are great people for leagues at Bulcester, and 
they like the initials L. V. L. There was no drinking of 
toasts, for there was nothing to drink them in, and 
— do you know, Mr. Merton? — I think it must be 
nearly luncheon time.' 

'Champagne appears to me to be indicated,' said 
Merton, who rang the bell and then summoned Miss 
Blossom from her typewriting. 

' We have done nothing,' Merton said, * but heaven 
only knows what we have escaped in the adventure 
of the Lady Novelist and the Vaccinationist' 

On taking counsel's opinion, Merton learned, with 
a shudder, that if young Warren had used the Borgia 
ring, and if Jane had resented it, he might have been 
indicted for a common assault, under 24 and 25 
Victoria, cap. 100, sec. 24, for ' unlawfully and mali- 
ciously administering a noxious thing with intent 
to annoy.' 

' I don't think she could have proved the intent 
to annoy,' said the learned counsel. 

* You don't know a Bulcester jury as it was before 
the epidemic,' said Merton. ' And I might have been 
an accessoiy before the fact, and, anyhow, we should 
all have got into the newspapers.' 

Miss Martin was the most admired of the brides- 
maids at the Warren-Truman marriage. 



X 

ADVENTURE OF THE FAIR AMERICAN 

/. The Prize of a Lad/s Hand 

* ■\/'ES, I guess that Pappa was reckoned consider- 
X able of a crank. A great educational reformer^ 
and a progressive Democratic stalwart, that is the kind 
of hairpin Pappa was ! But it is awkward for me, 
some.' 

These remarks, though of an obsolete and exag- 
gerated transatlantic idiom, were murmured in the 
softest of tones, in the most English of silken accents, 
by the most beautiful of young ladies. She occupied 
the client's chair in Merton's office, and, as she sat 
there and smiled, Merton acknowledged to himself 
that he had never met a client so charming and so 
perplexing. 

Miss McCabe had been educated, as Merton knew, 
at an aristocratic Irish convent in Paris, a sanctuary 
of old names and old creeds. This was the plan of 
her late father (spoken of by her as Pappa), an edu- 
cational reformer of eccentric ideas, who, though of 
ancient (indeed royal) Irish descent, was of American 
birth. The young lady had thus acquired abroad, 
much against her will, that kind of English accent 
which some of her countrywomen reckon * affected.' 



196 THE DISENTANGLERS 

But her intense patriotism had induced her to study» 
in the works of American humourists, and to re- 
produce in her discourse, the flowers of speech of 
which a specimen has been presented. The national 
accent was beyond her, but at least she could be 
true to what she (erroneously) believed to be the 
national idiom. 

' Your case is peculiar,' said Merton thoughtfully, 
' and scarcely within our province. As a rule our 
clients are the parents, guardians, or children of per- 
sons entangled in undesirable engagements. But 
you, I understand, are dissatisfied with the matri- 
monial conditions imposed by the will of the late Mr. 
McCabe?' 

' I want to take my own pick out of the crowd * 

said Miss McCabe. 

'I can readily understand,' said Merton, bowing, 
' that the throng of wooers is enormous,' and he 
vaguely thought of Penelope. 

' The scheme will be popular. It will hit our 
people right where they live,' said Miss McCabe, not 
appropriating the compliment. 'You see Pappa 
struck ile early, and struck it often. He was what 
our Howells calls a " multimillionaire," and I 'm his 
only daughter. Pappa loved me, but he loved the 
people better. Guess Pappa was not mean, not worth 
a cent He was a white man I ' 

Miss McCabe, with a glow of lovely enthusiasm, 
contemplated the unprecedented whiteness of the 
paternal character. 

' " What the people want," Pappa used to say, " is 
education. They want it short, and they want it 



ADVENTURE OF THE FAIR AMERICAN 197 

striking." That was why he laid out five millions 
on his celebrated Museum of Freaks, with a staff 
of competent professors and lecturers. " The McCabe 
Museum of Natural Varieties, lectures and all, is open 
gratuitously to the citizens of our Republic, and to 
intelligent foreigners." That was how Pappa put it 
/ say that he dead-headed creation ! ' 

'Truly Republican munificence,' said Merton, 
'worthy of your great country.' 

' Well, I should smile,' said Miss McCabe. 

'But — excuse my insular ignorance — I do not 
exactly understand how a museum of freaks, admir- 
ably organised as no doubt it is, contributes to the 
cause of popular education.' 

'You have museums even in London? ' asked Miss 
McCabe. 

Merton assented. 

' Are they not educational ? ' 

' The British Museum is mainly used by the chil- 
dren of the poor, as a place where they play a kind 
of subdued hide-and-seek,' said Merton. 

' That 's because they are not interested in tinned 
Egyptian corpses and broken Greek statuary ware,' 
answered the fair Republican. ' Now, Mr. Merton, 
did you ever see or hear of a popular museum, a 
museum that the People would give its cents to 
see?' 

' I have heard of Mr. Barnum's museum,' said 
Merton. 

'That's the idea: it is right there,' said Miss 
McCabe. ' But old man Barnum was not scientific. 
He saw what our people wanted, but he did not see. 



X98 THE DISENTANGLERS 

Pappa said, how to educate them through their 
natural instincts. Barnum's mermaid was not genu- 
ine business. It confused the popular mind, and fos- 
tered superstition — and got found out. The result 
was scepticism, both religious and scientific. Now, 
Pappa used to argue, the lives of our citizens are 
monotonous. They see yellow dogs, say, but each 
yellow dog has only one tail. They see men and 
women, but almost all of them have only one head : 
and even a hand with six fingers is not common. 
This is why the popular mind runs into grooves. 
This causes what they call ** the dead level of democ- 
racy." Even our men of genius, Pappa allowed (for 
he was a very fair-minded man), do not go ahead of 
the European ticket, but rather the reverse. Your 
Tennyson has the inner tracks of our Longfellow: your 
Thackeray gives our Bertha Runkle his dust. The 
papers called Pappa unpatriotic, and a bad American. 
But he was not : he was a white man. When he saw 
his country's faults he put his finger on them, right 
there, and tried to cure them.' 

* A noble policy,' murmured Merton. 

Miss McCabe was really so pretty and unusual, 
that he did not care how long she was in coming to 
the point. 

' Well, Pappa argued that there was more genius, 
or had been since the Declaration of Independence, 
even in England, than in the States. " And why? " 
he asked. " Why, because they have more variety in 
England. Things are not all on one level there " ' 

' Our dogs have only one tail apiece,' said Merton, 
' in spite of the proverb " as proud as a dog with ttvo 



ADVENTURE OF THE FAIR AMERICAN 199 

tails^* and a plurality of heads is unusual even among 
British subjects.' 

'Yes/ answered Miss McCabe, 'but you have 
varieties among yourselves. You have a King and 
a Queen ; and your peerage is rich in differentiated 
species. A Baronet is not a Marquis, nor is a Duke 
an Earl.' 

' He may be both/ said Merton, but Miss McCabe 
continued to expose the parental philosophy. 

' Now Pappa would not hear of aristocratic distinc- 
tions in our country. He was a Hail Columbia man, 
on the Democratic ticket. But something is wanted, 
he said, to get us out of grooves, and break the 
monotony. That something, said Pappa, Nature has 
mercifully provided in Freaks. The citizens feel this, 
unconsciously : that 's why they spend their money at 
Barnum's. But Bamum was not scientific, and Barnum 
was not straight about his mermaid. So Pappa 
founded his Museum of Natural Varieties, all of them 
honest Injun. Here the lecturers show off the freaks, 
and explain how Nature works them, and how she can 
always see them and go one better. We have the 
biggest gold nugget and the weeniest cunning least 
gold nugget; the biggest diamond and the smallest 
diamond ; the tallest man and the smallest man ; the 
whitest negro and the yellowest red man in the world. 
We have the most eccentric beasts, and the queerest 
fishes, and everything is explained by lecturers of 
world-wide reputation, on the principles of evolution, 
as copyrighted by our Asa Gray and our Agassiz. 
That is what Pappa called popular education, and it 
hits our citizens right where they live.* 



200 THE DISENTANGLERS 

Miss McCabe paused, in a flush of fllial and pa- 
triotic enthusiasm. Merton inwardly thought that 
among the queerest fishes the late Mr. McCabe must 
have been pre-eminent. But what he said was, ' The 
scheme is most original. Our educationists (to em- 
ploy a term which they do not disdain), such as Mr. 
Herbert Spencer, Sir Joshua Fitch, and others, have 
thought out nothing like this. Our capitalists never 
endow education on this more than imperial scale.' 

' Guess they are scaly varmints ! ' interposed Miss 
McCabe. 

Merton bowed his acquiescence in the sentiment. 

' But,' he went on, ' I still do not quite understand 
how your own prospects in life are affected by Mr. 
McCabe's most original and, I hope, promising 
experiment?' 

' Pappa loved me, but he loved his country better, 
and taught me to adore her, and be ready for any 
sacrifice.' Miss McCabe looked straight at Merton, 
like an Iphigenia blended with a Joan of Arc. 

' I do sincerely trust that no sacriflce is necessary/ 
said Merton. ' The circumstances do not call for so 
— unexampled a victim.' 

' I am to be Lady Principal of the museum when I 
come to the age of twenty-five : that is, in six years/ 
said Miss McCabe proudly. 'You don't call /Aa/a 
sacrifice ? ' 

Merton wanted to say that the most magnificent of 
natural varieties would only be in its proper place. 
But the man of business and the manager of a great 
and beneficent association overcame the mere ama- 
teur of beauty, and he only said that the position of 



ADVENTURE OF THE FAIR AMERICAN 201 

Lady Principal was worthy of the ambition of a pa- 
triot, and a friend of the species. 

' Well, I reckon ! But a clause in Pappa's will is 
awkward for me, some. It is about my marriage,' 
said Miss McCabe bravely. 

Merton assumed an air of grave interest 

' Pappa left it in his will that I was to marry the 
man (under the age of five-and-thirty, and of unim- 
peachable character and education) who should dis- 
cover, and add to the museum, the most original and 
unheard-of natural variety, whether found in the Old 
or the New World.' 

Merton could scarcely credit the report of his ears. 

' Would you oblige me by repeating that statement? ' 
he said, and Miss McCabe repeated it in identical 
terms, obviously quoting textually from the will. 

' Now I understand your unhappy position,' said 
Merton, thoroughly agreeing with the transatlantic 
critics who had pronounced the late Mr. McCabe 
' considerable of a crank.' ' But this is far too serious 
a matter for me — for our Association. I am no 
legist, but I am convinced that, at least British, and 
I doubt not American, law would promptly annul 
a testatory clause so utterly unreasonable and un- 
precedented.' 

' Unreasonable ! ' exclaimed Miss McCabe, rising to 
her feet with eyes of flame, ' I am my father's daugh- 
ter, and his wish is my law, whatever the laws that 
men make may say.' 

Her affectation of slang had fallen off; she was 
absolutely natural now, and entirely in earnest 

Merton rose also. 



202 THE DISENTANGLERS 

* One moment/ he said. * It would be impertinence 
in me to express my admiration of you — of what you 
say. As the question is not a legal one (in such I am 
no fit adviser) I shall think myself honoured if you 
will permit me to be of any service in the circum- 
stances. They are less unprecedented than I hastily 
supposed. History records many examples of fathers, 
even of royal rank, who have attached similar condi- 
tions to the disposal of their daughters' hands.' 

Merton was thinking of the kings in the treatises 
of Monsieur Charles Perrault, Madame d'Aulnoy, and 
other historians of Fairyland ; of monarchs who give 
their daughters to the bold adventurers that bring the 
smallest dog, or the singing rose, or the horse magical. 

' What you really want, I think,' he went on, as 
Miss McCabe resumed her seat, *is to have your 
choice, as you said, among the competitors?' 

' Yes,' replied the fair American, ' that is only 
natural.' 

' But then,' said Merton, ' much depends on who 
decides as to the merits of the competitors. With 
whom does the decision rest?' 

' With the people.' 

'With the people?' 

' Yes, with the popular vote, as expressed through 
the newspaper that my father founded — The Yellow 
Flag. The public is to see the exhibits, the new vari- 
eties of nature, and the majority of votes is to carry 
the day. " Trust the people ! " that was Pappa's 
word.' 

' Then anyone who chooses, of the age, character, 
and education stipulated under the clause in the will, 



ADVENTURE OF THE FAIR AMERICAN 203 

may go and bring in whatever variety of nature he 
pleases and take his chance?' 

' That is it all the time/ said the client. ' There is 
a trust, and the trustees, friends of Pappa's, decide on 
the qualifications of the young men who enter for the 
competition. If the trustees are satisfied they allot 
money for expenses out of the exploration fund, so 
that nobody may be stopped because he is poor.' 

' There will be an enormous throng of competitors 
in these conditions — and with such a prize,' Merton 
could not help adding. 

'I reckon the trustees are middling particular. 
They'll weed them out.* 

* Is there any restriction on the nationality of the 
competitors?' asked Merton, on whom an idea was 
dawning. 

' Only members of the English speaking races need 
apply,' said Miss McCabe. ' Pappa took no stock in 
Spaniards or Turks.' 

' The voters will be prejudiced in favour of their 
own fellow citizens?' asked Merton. 'That is only 
natural.' 

' Trust the people,' said Miss McCabe. * The whole 
thing is to be kept as dark as a blind coloured per- 
son hunting in a dark cellar for a black cat that is not 
there.' 

' A truly Miltonic illustration,' said Merton. 

'The advertisement for competitors will be care- 
fully worded, so as to attract only young men of 
science. The young men are not to be told about 
me : the prize is in dollars, "with other advantages 
to be later specified." The varieties found are to be 



204 THE DISENTANGLERS 

conveyed to a port abroad, not yet named, and 
shipped for New York in a steamer belonging to 
the McCabe Trust.' 

' Then am I to understand that the conditions 
affecting your marriage are still an entire secret? ' 

' That is so/ said Miss McCabe, ' and I guess from 
what the marchioness told me, your reference, that 
you can keep a secret.* 

* To keep secrets is the very essential of my voca- 
tion,' said Merton. 

But this secret, as will be seen, he did not abso- 
lutely keep. 

' The arrangements,' he added, ' are most judicious.' 

' Guess Pappa was 'cute,' said Miss McCabe, re- 
lapsing into her adopted mannerisms. 

' I think I now understand the case in all its bear- 
ings,' Merton went on. ' I shall give it my serious 
consideration. Perhaps I had better say no more at 
present, but think over the matter. You remain in 
town for the season?' 

* Guess we Ve staked out a claim in Berkeley 
Square,' said Miss McCabe, ' an agreeable location.' 
She mentioned the number of the house. 

* Then we are likely to meet now and then,* said 
Merton, ' and I trust that I may be permitted to wait 
on you occasionally.' 

Miss McCabe graciously assented; her chaperon, 
Lady Rathcoffey, was summoned by her from the 
inner chamber and the society of Miss Blossom, the 
typewriter ; the pair drove away, and Merton was left 
to his own reflections. 

' I do not know what can be done for her,' he 



ADVENTURE OF THE FAIR AMERICAN 205 

thought, ' except to see that there is at least one 
eligible man, a gentleman, among the crowd of com- 
petitors, and that he is a likely man to win the beau- 
tiful prize. And that man is Bude, by Jove, if he 
wants to win it.' 

The Earl of Bude, whose name at once occurred to 
Merton, was a remarkable personage. The world 
knew him as rich, handsome, happy, and a mighty 
hunter of big game. They knew not the mysterious 
grief that for years had gnawed at his heart. Why 
did not Bude marry? No woman could say. The 
world, moreover, knew not, but Merton did, that Lord 
Bude was the mysterious Mr. Jones Harvey, who con- 
tributed the most original papers to the Proceedings 
of the Geographical and Zoological Societies, and 
who had conferred many strange beasts on the Gar- 
dens of the latter learned institution. The erudite 
papers were read, the eccentric animals were con- 
ferred, in the name of Mr. Jones Harvey. They 
came from outlandish addresses in the ends of the 
earth, but, in the flesh, Jones Harvey had been seen 
by no man, and his secret had been confided to Mer- 
ton only, to Logan, and two other school friends. 
He did good to science by stealth, and blushed at 
the idea of being a F.R.S. There was no show of 
science about Bude, and nothing exotic, except the 
singular circumstance that, however he happened to 
be dressed, he always wore a ring, or pin, or sleeve 
links set with very ugly and muddy looking pearls. 
From these ornaments Lord Bude was inseparable ; 
to chaff about presents from dusky princesses on un- 
discovered shores he was impervious. Even Merton 



2o6 THE DISENTANGLERS 

did not know the cause of his attachment to these 
ungainly jewels, or the dark memory of mysterious 
loss with which they were associated. 

Merton's first care was to visit the divine Althaea, 
Mrs. Brown-Smith, and other ladies of his acquaint- 
ance. Their cards were deposited at the claim 
staked out by Miss McCabe in Berkeley Square, and 
that young lady soon ' went everywhere,' and pub- 
licly confessed that she ' was having a real lovely 
time.' By a little diplomacy Lord Bude was brought 
acquainted with Miss McCabe. She consented to 
overlook his possession of a coronet ; titles were, to 
this heroine, not marvels (as to some of her country- 
women and ours), but rather matters of indifference* 
scarcely even suggesting hostile prejudice. The ob* 
servers in society, mothers and maids, and the chron- 
iclers of fashion, soon perceived that there was at 
least a marked camaraderie between the elegant arts- 
tocraty hitherto indifferent to woman, untouched, as 
was deemed, by love, and the lovely Child of Free- 
dom. Miss McCabe sat by him while he drove his 
coach ; on the roof of his drag at Lord's ; and of his 
houseboat at Henley, where she fainted when the 
crew of Johns Hopkins University, U. S., was defeated 
by a length by Balliol (where Lord Bude had been 
the favourite pupil of the great Master). Merton 
remarked these tokens of friendship with approval. 
If Bude could be induced to enter for the great com- 
petition, and if he proved successful, there seemed no 
reason to suppose that Miss McCabe would be dissat- 
isfied with the People's choice. 

Towards the end of the season, and in Bude's 



ADVENTURE OF THE FAIR AMERICAN 207 

smoking-room, about five in the July morning after 
a ball at Eglintoun House, Merton opened his ap- 
proaches. He began, cautiously, from talk of moors 
and forests; he touched on lochs, he mentioned the 
Highland traditions of water bulls (which haunt these 
meres) ; he spoke of the Beathach mhr Loch Odka, a 
legendary animal of immeasurable length. The Bea- 
thach has twelve feet; he has often been heard crash- 
ing through the ice in the nights of winter. These 
tales the narrator has gleaned from the lips of the 
Celtic peasantry of Letter Awe. 

' I daresay he does break the ice,' said Bude. ' In 
the matter of cryptic survivals of extinct species I 
can believe a good deal.' 

'The sea serpent?' asked Merton. 

' Seen him thrice,' said Bude. 

' Then why did not Jones Harvey weigh in with a 
letter to Nature t ' 

' Jones Harvey has a scientific reputation to look 
after, and knows he would be laughed at. That's 
the kind of hairpin he is,' said Bude, quoting Miss 

McCabe. ' By Jove, Merton, that girl ' and he 

paused. 

' Yes, she is pretty,' said Merton. 

' Pretty ! I have seen the women of the round 
world — before I went to — well, never mind where, 
I used to think the Poles the most magnificent, but 
she ' 

* Whips creation, 'said Merton. * But I,' he went on, 
* am ratlier more interested in these other extraordi- 
nary animals. Do you seriously believe, with your ex- 
perience, that some extinct species are — not extinct?' 



2o8 THE DISENTANGLERS 

* To be sure I do. The world is wide. But they 
are very shy. I once stalked a Bunyip, in Central 
Australia, in a lagoon. The natives said he was 
there : I watched for a week, squatting in the reeds, 
and in the grey of the seventh dawn I saw him.' 

'Did you shoot?' 

' No, I observed him through a field glass first' 

' What is the beggar like ? ' 

' Much like some of the Highland water cattle, 
as described, but it is his ears they take for horns. 
Australia has no indigenous horned animal. He 
is, I should say, about nine feet long, marsupial 
(he rose breast high), and web-footed. I saw that 
when he dived. Other white men have seen him — 
Buckley, the convict, for one, when he lived among 
the blacks.' 

' Buckley was not an accurate observer.' 

* Jones Harvey is.' 

* Any other queer beasts? ' 

* Of course, plenty. You have heard of the Mylo- 
don, the gigantic Sloth? His bones, skin, and hair 
were lately found in a cave in Patagonia, with a lot 
of his fodder. You can see them at the British 
Museum in South Kensington. Primitive Patagonian 
man used the female of the species as a milch-cow. 
He was a genial friendly kind of brute, accessible 
to charm of manner and chopped hay. They fed him 
on that, in a domesticated state.' 

'But he is extinct. Hesketh Pritchard went to 
look for a live Mylodon, and did not find him.' 
' Did not know where to look/ said Bude, 

* But you do ? ' asked Merton. 



ADVENTURE OF THE FAIR AMERICAN 209 

* Yes, I think so/ 

'Then why don't you bring one over to the 
Zoo?' 

* I may some day.' 

'Are there any more survivors of extinct species?' 

' Merton, is this an interview? Are you doing Mr. 
Jones Harvey at home for a picture paper?' 

' No, I 've dropped the Press,' said Merton, ' I ask 
in a spirit of scientific curiosity.' 

'Well, there is the Dinomis, the Moa of New 
Zealand. A bird as big as the Roc in the " Arabian 
Nights." ' 

* Have you seen him f ' 

' No, but I have seen A^r, the hen bird. She was 
sitting on eggs. No man knows her nest but myself, 
and old Te-iki-pa, the chief medicine-man, or Tohunga, 
of the Maori King. The Moa's eyrie is in the King's 
country. It is a difficult country, and a dangerous 
business, if the cock Moa chances to come home.' 

'Bude, is this worthy of an old friend, this 
blague t ' 

* Do you doubt my word ? ' 

'If you give me your word I must believe — that 
you dreamed it.' 

Then a strange thing happened, 

Bude walked to a small case of instruments that 
stood on a table in the smoking-room. He unlocked 
it, took out a lancet, brought a Rhodian bowl from a 
shelf, and bared his arm. 

' Do you want proof ? ' 

'Proof that you saw a hen Moa sitting?' asked 
Merton in amazement. 

14 



2IO THE DISENTANGLERS 

* Not exactly, but proof that Te-iki-pa knew a thing 
or two, quite as out of the way as the habitat of the 
Moa.' 

' What do you want me to do? ' 

* Bare your arm, and hold it over the bowl.' 

The room was full of the yellow dusky light of an 
early summer morning in London. Outside the 
heavy carts were rolling by: in full civilisation the 
scene was strange. 

'The Blood Covenant?' asked Merton. 

Bude nodded. 

Merton turned up his cuff, Bude let a little blood 
drop into the bowl, then performed the same operation 
on his own arm. 

* This is all rot,' he said, ' but without this I cannot 
show you, by virtue of my oath to Te-iki-pa, what I 
mean to show you. Now repeat after me what I am 
going to say.' 

He spoke a string of words, among which Merton, 
as he repeated them, could only recognise mana and 
atua. The vowel sounds were as in Italian. 

' Now these words you must never report to any 
one, without my permission.' 

' Not likely,' said Merton, ' I only remember two of 
them, and these I knew before.' 

* All right,' said Bude. 

He then veiled his face in a piece of silk that lay on 
a sofa, and rapidly, in a low voice, chanted a kind of 
hymn in a tongue unknown to Merton. All this he 
did with a bored air, as if he thought the performance 
a superfluous mummery. 

' Now what shall I show you? Something simple. 



ADVENTURE OF THE FAIR AMERICAN 211 

Look at the book-case, and think of any book you 
may want to consult/ 

Merton thought of the volume in M. of the 
Encyclopadia Britannica, The volume slowly slid 
from the shelf, glided through the air to Merton, and 
gently subsided on the table near him, open at the 
word Moa. 

Merton walked across to the book-case, took all 
the volumes from the shelf, and carefully examined 
the backs and sides for springs and mechanical 
advantages. There were none. 

' Not half bad ! ' he said, when he had completed 
his investigation. 

'You are satisfied that Te-iki-pa knew something? 
If you had seen what I have seen, if you had 

seen the three days dead ' and Bude shivered 

slightly. 

' I have seen enough. Do you know how it is 
done ? ' 

'No.' 

' Well, a miracle is not what you call logical proof, 
but I believe that you did see the Moa, and a still 
more extraordinary bird, Te-iki-pa.' 

' Yes, they talk of strange beasts, but " nothing is 
stranger than man." Did you ever hear of the 
Berbalangs of Cagayan Sulu?' 

* Never in my life,' said Merton. 

' Heaven preserve me from them,* said Bude, and he 
gently stroked the strange muddy pearls in the sleeve- 
links on his loose shirt-cuff. ' Angels and ministers 
of grace defend us/ he exclaimed, crossing himself 
(he was of the old faith), and he fell silent. 



212 THE DISENTANGLERS 

It was a moment of emotion. Six silvery strokes 
were sounded from a little clock on the chimney- 
piece. The hour of confidences had struck. 

'Bude, you are serious about Miss McCabe?* 
asked Merton. 

' I mean to put it to the touch at Goodwood.' 

' No use ! ' said Merton. 

Bude changed colour. 

* Are you ? ' 

' No/ interrupted Merton. ' But she is not free.* 

'There is somebody in America? Nobody here, I 
think.' 

' It is hardly that/ said Merton. ' Can you listen 
to rather a long story? I '11 cut it as much as possi- 
ble. You must remember that I am practically 
breaking my word of honour in telling you this. 
My honour is in your hands.' 

'Fire away/ said Bude, pouring a bottle of 
ApoUinaris water into a long tumbler, and drinking 
deep. 

Merton told the tale of Miss McCabe's extraor- 
dinary involvement, and of the wild conditions on 
which her hand was to be won. 'And as to her 
heart, I think,' he added, 'if you pull off the 
prize — 

If my heart by signs can tell, 
Lordling, I have marked her daily, 
And I think she loves thee welL' 

'Thank you for that, old cock,' replied the peer, 
shaking Merton's hand. He had recovered from his 
emotion. 



ADVENTURE OF THE FAIR AMERICAN 213 

' I 'm on/ he added, after a moment's silence, ' but I 
shall enter as Jones Harvey/ 

' His name and his celebrated papers will impress 
the trustees,' said Merton* 'Now what variety of 
nature shall you go for? Wild men count. Shall 
you fetch a Berbalang of what do you call it?' 

Bude shuddered. ' Not much/ he said. ' I think I 
shall fetch a Moa/ 

' But no steamer could hold that gigantic denizen 
of the forests.' 

* You leave that to Jones Harvey. Jones is 'cute, 
some/ he said, reminiscent of the adored one, and he 
fell into a lover's reverie. 

He was aroused by Merton's departure: he fin- 
ished the ApoUinaris water, took a bath, and went to 
bed. 

//. The Adventure of the Muddy Pearls - 

The Earl of Bude had meant to lay his heart, cor- 
onet, and other possessions, real and personal, before 
the tiny feet of the fair American at Goodwood. But 
when he learned from Merton the involvements of 
this heiress and paragon, that her hand depended 
on the choice of the people, that the choice of the 
people was to settle on the adventurer who brought 
to New York the rarest of nature's varieties, the 
earl honourably held his peace. Yet he and the ob- 
ject of his love were constantly meeting, on the 
yachts and in the country houses of their friends, 
the aristocracy, and, finally, at shooting lodges in the 
Highlands. Their position, as the Latin Delectus 



314 THE DISENTANGLERS 

says concerning the passion of love in general, was 
' a strange thing, and full of anxious fears.' Bude 
could not declare himself, and Miss McCabe, not 
knowing that he knew her situation, was constantly 
wondering why he did not speak. Between fear of 
letting her secret show itself in a glance or a blush 
and hope of listening to the words which she desired 
to hear, even though she could not answer them as 
her heart prompted, she was unhappy. Bude could 
not resist the temptation to be witfi her — indeed he 
argued to himself that, as her suitor and an adven- 
turer about to risk himself in her cause, he had a 
right to be near her. Meanwhile Merton was the 
confidant of both of the perplexed lovers ; at least 
Miss McCabe (who, of course, told him nothing about 
Bude) kept him apprised as to the conduct of her 
trustees. 

They had acted with honourable caution and cir- 
cumspection. Their advertisements guardedly ap- 
pealed to men of daring and of scientific distinction 
under the age of thirty-five. A professorship might 
have been in view for all that the world could see, if 
the world read the advertisements. Perhaps it was 
something connected with the manufacture of original 
explosives, for daring is not usually required in the 
learned. The testimonials and printed works of 
applicants were jealously scrutinised. At personal 
interviews with competitors similar caution was ob- 
served. During three weeks in August the papers 
announced that Lord Bude was visiting the States; 
arrangements about a yachting match in the future 
were his pretence. He returned, he came to Scotland, 



ADVENTURE OF THE FAIR AMERICAN 215 

and it was in a woodland path beside the Lochy that 
his resolution failed, and that he spoke to Miss Mc- 
Cabe. They were walking home together from the 
river in the melancholy and beautiful close of a High- 
land day in September. Behind them the gillies, at 
a respectful distance, were carrying the rods and the 
fish. The wet woods were fragrant, the voice of the 
stream was deepening, strange lights came and went 
on moor and hills and the distant loch. It was 
then that Bude opened his heart. He first candidly 
explained that his heart, he had supposed, was dead 
— buried on a distant and a deadly shore. 

' I reckon there 's a lost Lenore most times,' Miss 
McCabe had replied to this confession. 

But, though never to be forgotten, the memory of 
the lost one, Bude averred, was now merged in the 
light of a living love ; his heart was no longer ten- 
anted only by a shadow. 

The heart of Miss McCabe stood still for a moment, 
her cheek paled, but the gallant girl was true to her- 
self, to her father's wish, to her native land, to the 
flag. She understood her adorer. 

' Guess /'m bespoke,' said Miss McCabe abruptly. 

' You are another's ! Oh, despair ! ' exclaimed the 
impassioned earl. 

* Yes, I reckon I 'm the Bride of Seven, like the 
girl in the poem.' 

* The Bride of Seven ? ' said Bude. 

*' One out of that crowd will call me his,' said Miss 
McCabe, handing to her adorer the list, which she 
had received by mail a day or two earlier, of the 
accepted competitors. He glanced over the names. 



9i6 THE DISENTANGLERS 

1. Dr. Hiram P. Dodge» of the Smithsonian 

Institute. 

2. Alfred Jenkins, F.R.S., All Souls College, 

Oxford. 

3. Dr. James Rustler, Columbia University. 

4. Howard Fry, M.A., Ph.D., Trinity College, 

Cambridge. 

5. Professor Potter, F.R.S., University of St 

Andrews. 

6. Professor Wilkinson, University of Harvard. 

7. Jones Harvey, F.G.S., London, England. 

* In Heaven's name,' asked the earl, ' what means 
this mystification? Miss McCabe, Melissa, do not 
trifle with me. Is this part of the great American 
Joke? You are playing it pretty low down on me, 
Melissa ! ' he ended, the phrase being one of those 
with which she had made him familiar. 

She laughed hysterically : ' It 's honest Injun,' she 
said, and in the briefest terms she told him (what he 
knew very well) the conditions on which her future 
depended. 

'They are a respectable crowd, I don't deny it,' 
she went on, ' but, oh, how dull ! That Mr. Jenkins, 
I saw him at your Commemoration. He gave us 
luncheon, and showed us dry old bones of beasts 
and savage notions at the Museum. I druther have 
been on the creek,' by which name she intended the 
classical river Isis. 

' Dr. Hiram P. Dodge is one of our rising scientists, 
a boss of the Smithsonian Institute. Well, Washing- 
ton is a finer location than Oxford ! Dr. Rustler is a 
crank ; he thinks he can find a tall talk mummy that 
speaks an unknown tongue.' 



ADVENTURE OF THE FAIR AMERICAN ai? 

'A Toltec mummy? Ah/ said Bude, 'I know 
where to find one of them^ 

* Find it then, Alured ! ' exclaimed Miss McCabe, 
blushing scarlet and turning aside. ' But you are not 
on the list. You are an idler, and not scientific, not 
worth a red cent. There, I 've given myself away ! * 
She wept. 

They were alone, beneath the walls of a crumbling 
fortalice of Lochiel. The new risen moon saw Bude 
embrace her and dry her tears. A nameless blissful 
hope awakened in the fair American ; help there musf 
be, she thought, with these strong arms around her. 

She rapidly disposed of the remaining names : of 
Howard Fry, who had a red beard; of Professor 
Potter of St. Andrews, whose accent was Caledonian ; 
of Wilkinson, an ardent but unalluring scientist. ' As 
for Jones Harvey,' she said, ' I 've canvassed every- 
where, and I can't find anybody that ever saw him. 
I am more afraid of him than of all the other galoots ; 
I don't know why.' 

' He is reckoned very learned,' said Bude, ' and has 
not been thought ill-looking.' 

' Do tell ! ' said Miss McCabe. 

* Oh, Melissa, can you even dream of another in an 
hour like this?' 

' Did you ever see Jones Harvey? ' 
' Yes, I have met him.' 

* Do you know him well ? ' 

' No man knows him better.' 

* Can't you get him to stand out, and, Alured, can't 
you — fetch along that old tall talk mummy? He 
would hit our people, being American himself/ 



2i8 THE DISENT ANGLERS 

' It is impossible. Jones Harvey will never stand 
out/ and Bude smiled. 

By the telepathy of the affections Miss McCabe was 
slowly informed, especially as Bude's smile widened 
almost unbecomingly, while he gazed into the deeps 
of her golden eyes. 

' Alured/ she exclaimed, ' that *s why you went to 
the States. You — are — Jones Harvey ! ' 

' Secret for secret,' whispered the earl. * We have 
both given ourselves away. Unknown to the world I 
am Jones Harvey; to live for you: to love you: to 
dare ; if need be, to die for you.' 

' Well, you surprise me ! ' said Miss McCabe. 

• ■■•••. 

The narrator is unwilling to dilate on the delights 
of a privileged affection. In this love affair neither of 
the lovers could feel absolutely certain that their 
affection was privileged. The fair American had her 
own secret scheme if her hopes were blighted. She 
cou/d not then obey the paternal will : she would re- 
tire into the life religious, and, as Sister Anna, would 
strive to forget the sorrows of Melissa McCabe. 
Bude had his own hours of gloom. 

' It is a six-to-one chance,' he said to Merton when 
they met. 

' Better than that, I think,' said Merton. ' First, 
you know exactly what you are entered for. Do the 
others? When you saw the trustees in the States, did 
they tell you about the prize? ' 

* Not they. They spoke of a pecuniary reward 
which would be eminentiy satisfactory, and of the 
opportunity for research and distinction, and all ex- 



ADVENTURE OF THE FAIR AMERICAN 219 

penses found. I said that I preferred to pay my own 
way, which surprised and pleased them a good deal/ 
' Well, then, knowing the facts, and the lady, you 
have a far stronger motive than the other six.' 

* That 's true,' said Bude. 

* Again, though the others are good men (not that 
I like Jenkins of All Souls), none of them has your 
experience and knowledge. Jones Harvey's testi- 
monials would carry it if it were a question of elec- 
tion to a professorship.' 

' You flatter me/ answered Bude. 

* Lastly^ did the trustees ask you if you were a mar^ 
ried man t ' 

' No, by Jove, they did n't.' 

'Well, nothing about the competitors being un- 
married men occurs in the clause of McCabe's last 
will and testament. He took it for granted, the prize 
being what it is, that only bachelors were eligible. 
But he forgot to say so, in so many words, and the 
trustees did not go beyond the deed. Now, Dodge 
is married ; Fry of Trinity is a married don ; Rustler 
(I happen to know) is an engaged man, who can't 
afford to marry a charming girl in Detroit, Michigan ; 
and Professor Potter has buried one wife, and wedded 
another. If Rustler is loyal to his plighted word, you 
have nobody against you but Wilkinson and old Jen- 
kins of All Souls — a tough customer, I admit, though 
what a Stinks man like him has to do at All Souls I 
don't know.' 

' I say, this is hard on the other sportsmen ! What 
ought I to do ? Should I tell them ? ' 

' You can't : you have no official knowledge of their 



320 THE DISENTANGLERS 

existence. You only know through Miss McCabe. 
You have just to sit tight.' 

' It seems beastly unsportsmanlike/ said Bude. 

' Wills are often most carelessly drafted/ answered 
Merton, ' and the usual consequences follow/ 

' It is not cricket/ said Bude, and really he seemed 
much more depressed than elated by the reduction 
of the odds against him from 6 to i to 2 to i. 

This is the magnificent type of character produced 
by our British system of athletic sports, though it is 
not to be doubted that the spirit of Science, in the 
American gentlemen, would have been equally pro*- 
ductive of the sense of fair play. 

A year, by the terms of McCabe's will, was allotted 
to the quest. Candidates were to keep the trustees 
informed as to their whereabouts. Six weeks before 
the end of the period the competitors would be in- 
structed as to the port of rendezvous, where an ocean 
liner, chartered by the trustees, was to await them. 
Bude, as Jones Harvey, had obtained leave to sail his 
own steam yacht of 8oo tons. 

The earl's preparations were simple. He carried 
his usual stock of scientific implements, his usual 
armament, including two Maxim guns, and a package 
of considerable size and weight, which was stored in 
the hold. As to the preparations of the others he 
knew nothing, but Miss McCabe became aware that 
Rustler had not left the American continent. Con- 
cerning Jenkins, and the probable aim of his enter- 
prise, the object of his quest, she gleaned information 
from a junior Fellow of All Soub, who was her slave. 



ADVENTURE OF THE FAIR AMERICAN 221 

was indiscreet, and did not know how deeply con- 
cerned she was in the expeditions. But she never 
whispered a word of what she knew to her lover, not 
even in the hour of parting. 

It was in an unnamed creek of the New Zealand 
coast, six weeks before the end of the appointed year, 
that Bude received a telegram in cipher from the trus- 
tees. Bearded, and in blue spectacles, clad rudely as 
a mariner, Bude was to all, except Logan, who had 
accompanied him, plain Jones Harvey. None could 
have recognised in his rugged aspect the elegant 
aristocrat of Mayfair. 

Bude took the message from the hands of the Maori 
bearer. As he deciphered it his fingers trembled 
with eagerness. * Oh, Heaven ! Here is the Hand 
of Destiny ! ' he exclaimed, when he had read the 
message; and with pallid face he dropped into a 
deck-chair. 

' No bad news ? ' asked Logan with anxiety. 

' The port of rendezvous,' said Bude, much agitated. 
' Come down to my cabin.' 

Entering the sumptuous cabin, Bude opened the 
locked door of a state-room, and uttered some words 
in an unknown tongue. A tall and very ancient 
Maori, tatooed with the native * Moka ' on every inch 
of his body, emerged. The snows of some eighty 
winters covered his broad breast and majestic head. 
His eyes were full of the secrets of primitive races. 
For clothing he wore two navy revolvers stuck in a 
waist-cloth. 

'Te-iki-pa,' said Bude, in the Maori language, 
' watch by the door, we must have no listeners, and 



322 THE DISENTANGLERS 

your ears are keen as those of the youngest Ran- 
gatira' (warrior). 

The august savage nodded, and» lying down on the 
floor, applied his ear to the chink at its foot. 

* The port of tryst/ whispered Bude to Logan, as 
they seated themselves at the remotest extremity of 
the cabin, ' is in Cagayan Sulu.' 

* And where may that be ? ' asked Logan, lighting 
a cigarette. 

' It is a small volcanic island, the most southerly 
of the Philippines.' 

' American territory now,' said Logan. ' But what 
about it? If it was anybody but you, Bude, I should 
say he was in a funk.' 

' I am in a funk,' answered Bude simply. 

'Why?' 

' I have been there before and left — a blood-feud.' 

'What of it? We have one here, with the Maori 
King, about you know what. Have we not the 
Maxims, and any quantity of Lee-Metfords? Be- 
sides, you need not go ashore at Cagayan Sulu.' 

' But they can come aboard. Bullets won't stop 
them: 

' Stop whom ? The natives? ' 

' The Berbalangrs : you might as well try to stop 
mosquitoes with Maxims.' 

' Who are the Berbalangs then ? ' 

Bude paced the cabin in haggard anxiety. ' Least 
said, soonest mended,' he muttered. 

' Well, I don't want your confidence,' said Logan, 
hurt. 

' My dear fellow/ said Bude affectionately, ' you 



ADVENTURE OF THE FAIR AMERICAN 223 

are likely to know soon enough. In the meantime, 
please accept this.' 

He opened a strong box, which appeared to con- 
tain jewellery, and offered Logan a ring. Between two 
diamonds of the finest water it contained a bizarre 
muddy coloured pearl. ' Never let that leave your 
finger,' said Bude. ' Your life may hang on it' 

' It is a pretty talisman,' said Logan, placing the 
jewel on the little finger of his right hand. ' A token 
of some friendly chief, I suppose, at Cagayan — what 
do you call it?' 

' Let us put it at that,' answered Bude ; ' I must 
take other precautions.' 

It seemed to Logan that these consisted in making 
similar presents to the officers and crew, all of whom 
were Englishmen. Te-iki-pa displaced his nose- 
ring and inserted his pearl in the orifice previously 
occupied by that ornament. A little chain of the 
pearls was hung on the padlock of the huge pack- 
ing-case, which was the special care of Te-iki-pa. 

' Luckily I had the yacht's painting altered before 
leaving England,' said Bude. ' I '11 sail her under 
Spanish colours, and perhaps they won't spot her. 
Anyway, with the pearls — lucky I bought a lot — 
we ought to be safe enough. But if any one of the 
competitors has gone for specimens of the Berbalangs, 
I fear, I sadly fear, the consequences.' His face 
clouded; he fell into a reverie. 

Logan made no reply, but puffed rings of cigarette 
smoke into the still blue air. There was method in 
Bude's apparent madness, but Logan suspected that 
there was madness in his method. 



324 THE DISENTANGLERS 

A certain coolness had not ceased to exist between 
the friends when, after their long voyage, they sighted 
the volcanic craters of the lonely isle of Cagayan Sulu 
and beheld the Stars and Stripes waving from the 
masthead of the George Washington (Captain Noah 
P. Funkal). 

Logan landed, and noted the harmless but well- 
armed half-Mahometan natives of the village. He 
saw the other competitors, whose ' exhibits,' as Miss 
McCabe called them, were securely stored in the 
George Washington — strange spoils of far-off mysteri- 
ous forests, and unplumbed waters of the remotest isles. 
Occasionally a barbaric yap, or a weird yell or hoot, 
was wafted on the air at feeding time. Jenkins of All 
Souls (whom he knew a little) Logan did not meet 
on the beach; he, like Bude, tarried aboard ship. 
The other adventurers were civil but remote, and 
there was a jealous air of suspicion on every face 
save that of Professor Potter. He, during the day 
of waiting on the island, played golf with Logan over 
links which he had hastily improvised. Beyond ad- 
mitting, as they played, that his treasure was in a 
tank, ' and as well as could be expected, poor brute, 
but awful noisy,' Professor Potter offered no infor- 
mation. 

' Our find is quiet enough,' said Logan. 

' Does he give you trouble about food ? ' asked Mr. 
Potter. 

' Takes nothing,' said Logan, adding, as he holed 
out, 'that makes me dormy two.' 

From the rest of the competitors not even this 
amount of information could be extracted, and as 



ADVENTURE OF THE FAIR AMERICAN 225 

for Captain Noah Funkal, he was taciturn, authorita- 
tive, and, Logan thought, not in a very good temper. 

The George Washington and the Pendragon (so 
Jones Harvey had christened the yacht which under 
Bude's colours sailed as TheSabrina) weighed anchor 
simultaneously. If possible* they were not to lose 
sight of each other, and they corresponded by signals 
and through the megalophone. 

The hours of daylight on the first day of the return 
voyage passed peacefully at deck-cricket, as far as 
Logan, Bude, and such of the officers and men as 
could be spared were concerned. At last night 
came ' at one stride,' and the vast ocean plain was 
only illuminated by the pale claritude that falls from 
the stars. Logan and Bude (they had not dressed 
for dinner, but wore yachting suits) were smoking on 
deck, when, quite suddenly, a loud, almost musical, 
roar or hum was heard from the direction of the dis- 
tant island. 

' What's that?' asked Logan, leaping up and look- 
ing towards Cagayan Sulu. 

' The Berbalangs,' said Bude coolly. ' You are 
wearing the ring I gave you?' 

'Yes, always do,' said Logan, looking at his hand. 

' All the men have their pearls ; I saw to that,' said 
Bude. 

' Why, the noise is dwindling,' said Logan. ' That 
is odd ; it seemed to be coming this way.' 

' So it is,' said Bude ; ' the nearer they approach 
the less you hear them. When they have come on 
board you won't hear them at all.' 

Logan stared, but asked no more questions. 

15 



226 THE DI SENT ANGLERS 

The musical boom as it approached had died to a 
whisper, and then had fallen into perfect silence. At 
the very moment when the mysterious sound ceased, 
a swarm of things like red iire-fiies, a host of floating 
specks of ruby light, invaded the deck in a cluster. 
The red points then scattered, approached each man 
on board, and paused when within a yard of his head 
or breast. Then they vanished. A queer kind of 
chill ran down Logan's spine ; then the faint whis* 
pered musical moan tingled in each man's ears, and 
the sounds as they departed eastwards gathered 
volume and force till, in a moment, there fell perfect 
stillness. 

Stillness, broken only by a sudden and mysterious 
chorus of animal cries from the George Washington. 
A kind of wail, high, shrieking, strenuous, ending in a 
noise as of air escaping from a pipe; a torrent of 
barks such as no known beast could utter, subsiding 
into moans that chilled the blood ; a guttural scream, 
broken by heavy sounds as if of water lapping on a 
rock at uncertain intervals; a human cry, human 
words, with unfamiliar vowel sounds, soon slipping 
into quiet — these were among the horrors that as- 
sailed the ears of the voyagers in the Pendragon. 
Such a discord of laments has not tingled to the 
indifferent stars since the ice-wave swept into their 
last retreats, and crushed among the rocks that bear 
their fossil forms, the fauna of the preglacial period, 
the Ichthyosaurus, the Brontosaurus, the Guyas Cutis 
(or Ring-tailed Roarer), the Mastodon, and the 
Mammoth. 

' What a row in the menagerie ! ' said Logan. 



ADVENTURE OF THE FAIR AMERICAN 227 

He was not answered. 

Bude had fallen into a deck-chair, his face buried 
in his hands, his arms rocking convulsively. 

' I say, old cock, pull yourself together,' said Logan, 
and rushing down the companion stairs, he reap- 
peared with a bottle of champagne. To extract the 
cork (how familiar, how reassuring, sounded the 
chop .^), and to pour the foaming beverage into two 
long tumblers, was, to the active Logan, the work of a 
moment. Shaking Bude, he offered him the beaker ; 
the earl drained it at a draught. He shuddered, but 
rose to his feet. 

' Not a man alive on that doomed vessel,' he was 
saying, when anew the still air was rent by the 
raucous notes of a megalophone: 

' Is your exhibit all right? ' 

' Fit as a fiddle/ answered Logan through a similar 
instrument. 

'Our exhibits are gone bust,' answered Captain 
Noah Funkal. ' Our professors are in fits. Our dar- 
keys are all dead. Can your skipper come aboard?' 

'Just launching a boat,' cried Logan. 

Bude gave the necessary orders. His captain 
stepped up to him and saluted. 

' Do you know what these red fire-fiies were that 
come aboard, sir? ' he asked. 

'Fire-flies? Oh, musca volitantes sonortBy a com- 
mon phenomenon in these latitudes,' answered Bude. 

Logan rejoiced to see that the earl was himself 
again. 

' The other gentlemen's scientific beasts don't seem 
to like them, sir?' 



2s8 THE DISENTANGLERS 

'So Captain Funkal seems to imply/ said Bude, 
and, taking the ropes, with Logan beside him, while 
the Pendragon lay to, he steered the boat towards the 
George Washington. 

The captain welcomed them on deck in a scene of 
unusual character. He himself had a revolver in one 
hand, and a belaying pin in the other ; he had been 
quelling, by the tranquillising methods of Captain 
Kettle, a mutiny caused by tihe terror of the crew. 
The sailors had attempted to leap overboard in the 
alarm caused by the invasion of the Berbalangs. 

' You will excuse my friend and myself for not 
being in evening dress, during a visit at this hour,' 
said Bude in the silkiest of tones. 

' Glad to see you shipshape, gentlemen,' answered 
the American mariner. ' My dudes of professors 
were prancing round in Tuxedos and Prince Alberts 
when the darned fire-flies came aboard.' 

Bude bowed. Study of Miss McCabe had taught 
him that Tuxedos and Prince Alberts mean evening 
dress and frock-coats. 

' XyiAyour men have fits? ' asked the captain. 

' My captain. Captain Hardy, made a scientific 
inquiry about the — insects,' said Bude. * The crew 
showed no emotion.' 

' I guess our fire-bugs were more on business than 
yours,' said Captain Funkal ; ' they 've wrecked the ex- 
hibits, and killed the darkeys with fright : except two, 
and they were exhibits themselves. Will you honour 
me by stepping into my cabin, gentlemen. I am 
glad to see sane white men to-night.' 

Bude and Logan followed him through a scene of 



ADVENTURE OF THE FAIR AMERICAN 229 

melancholy interest. Beside the mast, within a shat- 
tered palisade, lay huddled the vast corpse of the 
Mylodon of Patagonia, couchant amidst his fodder of 
chopped hay. The expression of the huge animal 
was placid and urbane in death. He was the victim 
of the ceaseless curiosity of science. Two of the five- 
horned antelope giraffes of Central Africa lay in a 
confused heap of horns and hoofs. Beside an im- 
mense tank couched a figure in evening dress, swearing 
in a subdued tone. Logan recognised Professor Potter. 
He gently laid his hand on the Professor's shoulder. 
The Scottish savant looked up : 

' It is a dommed mismanaged affair,' he said. ' I 
could have brought the poor beast safe enough from the 
Clyde to New York, but the Americans made me harl 
him round by yon island of camstairy deevils/ and he 
shook his fist in the direction of Cagayan Sulu. 

' What had you got? ' asked Logan. 

' The Beathach na Loch na bheiste* said Potter. ' I 
drained the Loch to get him. Fortunately,' he added, 
' it was at the expense of the Trust.' 

After a few words of commonplace but heartfelt 
condolence, Logan descended the companion, and fol- 
lowed Bude and Captain Funkal into the cabin of 
that officer. The captain placed refreshments on the 
table. 

' Now, gentlemen,' he said, ' you have seen the 
least riled of my professors, and you can guess what 
the rest are like. Professor Rustler is weeping in his 
cabin over a shrivelled old mummy. " Never will he 
speak again," says he, and I am bound to say that I 
hev heard the critter discourse once. The mummy 



230 THE DISENTANGLERS 

let some awful yells out of him when the fire-bugs 
came aboard.' 

' Yes, we heard a human cry/ said Bude. 

' I had thought the talk was managed with a con- 
cealed gramophone/ said the captain, ' but it was n*t. 
The Bunyip from Central Australia has gone to his 
long home. That was Professor Wilkinson's pet 
There is nothing left alive out of the lot but the 
natives that Professor Jenkins of England brought 
in irons from Cagayan Sulu. I reckon them two 
niggers are somehow at the bottom of the whole 
ruction.' 

' Indeed, and why? ' asked Bude. 

* Why, sir — I am addressing Professor Jones 
Harvey?' 

Bude bowed. ' Harvey, captain, but not professor 
— simple amateur seaman and explorer.' 

' Sir, your hand,' said the captain. ' Your friend is 
not a professor?' 

' Not I,' said Logan, smiling. 

The captain solemnly shook hands. * Gentlemen, 
you have sand,' he said, a supreme tribute of respect 
' Well, about these two natives. I never liked taking 
them aboard. They are, in consequence of the 
triumph of our arms, American subjects, natives of 
the conquered Philippines. I am no lawyer, and 
they may be citizens, they may have votes. They 
are entitled, anyway, to the protection of the Flag, 
and I would have entered them as steerage pas- 
sengers. But that Professor Jenkins (and the other 
professors agreed) would have it that they came 
under the head of scientific exhibits. And they did 



ADVENTURE OF THE FAIR AMERICAN 231 

allow that the critters were highly dangerous. I guess 
they were right.* 

' Why, what could they do? ' 

' Well, gentlemen, I heard stories on shore that I 
took no stock in. I am not a superstitious man, but 
they allowed that these darkeys are not of a common 
tribe, but what the papers call "highly developed 
mediums." And I guess they are at the bottom of 
the stramash.' 

' Captain Funkal, may I be frank with you ? ' asked 
Bude. 

' I am hearing you/ said the captain. 

' Then, to put it shortly, I have been at Cagayan 
Sulu before, on an exploring cruise. That was in 
1897. I never wanted to go back to it. Logan, did 
I not regret the choice of that port when the news 
reached us in New Zealand?' 

Logan nodded. ' You funked it,' he said. 

' When I was at Cagayan Sulu in 1897 1 heard from 
the natives of a singular tribe in the centre of the 
island. This tribe is the Berbalangs.' 

' That 's what Professor Jenkins called them,' said 
the captain. 

'The Berbalangs are subject to neither of the 
chiefs in the island. No native will approach their 
village. They are cannibals. The story is that they 
can throw themselves into a kind of trance. They 
then project a something or other — spirit, astral 
body, influence of some kind — which flies forth, 
making a loud noise when distant.' 

' That 's what we heard,' said the captain. 

' But is silent when they are close at hand.' 



232 THE DISENTANGLERS 

' Silent they were/ said the captain. 

' They then appear as points of red flame/ 

' That 's so/ interrupted the captain. 

' And cause death to man and beast, apparently by 
terror. I have seen/ said Bude, shuddering, ' the 
face of a dead native of high respectability, into 
whose house, before my own eyes, these points of 
flame had entered. I had to force the door, it 
was strongly barred within. I never mentioned 
the fact before, knowing that I could not expect 
belief.' 

' Well, sir, I believe you. You are a white man.' 

Bude bowed, and went on. ' The circumstances, 
though not generally known, have been published, 
captain, by a gentleman of reputation, Mr. Edward 
Forbes Skertchley, of Hong Kong. His paper in- 
deed, in the youmal of a learned association, the 
Asiatic Society of Bengal,^ induced me, most unfor- 
tunately, to visit Cagayan Sulu, when it was still 
nominally in the possession of the Spaniards. My 
experience was similar to that of Mr. Skertchley, but, 
for personal reasons, was much more awful and dis- 
tressing. One of the most beautiful of the island 
girls, a person of most amiable and winning character, 
not, alas ! of my own faith ' — Bude's voice broke — 
' was one of the victims of the Berbalangs. ... I 
loved her.' 

He paused, and covered his face with his hands. 
The others respected and shared his emotion. The 
captain, like all sailors, sympathetic, dashed away a 
tear. 

1 Part III. No. I, 1896. Baptist Mission Press. Calcutta, 
1897. 



ADVENTURE OF THE FAIR AMERICAN 233 

' One thing I ought to add/ said Bude, recovering 
himself, ' I am no more superstitious than you are, 
Captain Funkal, and doubtless science will find a 
simple, satisfactory, and normal explanation of the 
facts, the existence of which we are both compelled 
to admit. I have heard of no well authenticated in- 
stance in which the force, whatever it is, has been 
fatal to Europeans. The superstitious natives, much 
as they dread the Berbalangs, believe that they will 
not attack a person who wears a cocoa-nut pearl. 
Why this should be so, if so it is, I cannot guess. 
But, as it is always well to be on the safe side, I pro- 
vided myself five years ago with a collection of these 
objects, and when I heard that we were ordered to 
Cagayan Sulu I distributed them among my crew. 
My friend, you may observe, wears one of the pearls. 
I have several about my person.' He disengaged a 
pin from his necktie, a muddy pearl set with burning 
rubies. ' Perhaps, Captain Funkal, you will honour 
me by accepting this specimen, and wearing it while 
we are in these latitudes? If it does no good, it can 
do no harm. We, at least, have not been molested, 
though we witnessed the phenomena/ 

' Sir,' said the captain, ' I appreciate your kindness, 
and I value your gift as a memorial of one of the 
most singular experiences in a seafaring life. I drink 
your health and your friend's. Mr. Logan, to you! 
The captain pledged his guests. 

' And now, gentlemen, what am I to do? ' 
' That, captain, is for your own consideration.' 
' I '11 carpet that lubber, Jenkins,' said the captain, 
and leaving the cabin, he returned with the Fellow of 



234 THE DISENTANGLERS 

All Souls. His shirt front was ruffled, his white neck- 
cloth awry, his pallid countenance betrayed a sensi- 
tive second-rate mind, not at unity with itself. He 
nodded sullenly to Logan : Bude he did not know. 

* Professor Jenkins, Mr. Jones Harvey,' said the 
captain. ' Sit down, sir. Take a drink ; you seem 
to need one/ Jenkins drained the tumbler, and sat 
with downcast eyes, his finger drumming nervously 
on the table. 

' Professor Jenkins, sir, I reckon you are the cause 
of the unparalleled disaster to this exploring expe- 
dition. Why did you bring these two natives of our 
territory on board, you well and duly knowing that 
the end would not justify the proceedings? ' 

A furtive glance from Jenkins lighted on the dia- 
monds that sparkled in Logan's ring. He caught 
Logan's hand. 

* Traitor ! ' he cried. ' What will not scientific 
jealousy dare, that meanest of the passions ! ' 

' What the devil do you mean? ' said Logan angrily, 
wrenching his hand away. 

' You leave Mr. Logan alone, sir,' said the captain. 
' I have two minds to put you in irons, Mr. Professor 
Jenkins. If you please, explain yourself.' 

'I denounce this man and his companion,' said 
Jenkins, noticing a pearl ring on Bude's finger ; ' I de- 
nounce them of conspiracy, mean conspiracy, against 
this expedition, and against the American flag.' 

'As how?' inquired the captain, lighting a cigar 
with irritating calmness. 

' They wear these pearls, in which I had trusted 
for absolute security against the Berbalangs.' 



ADVENTURE OF THE FAIR AMERICAN 235 

' Well, I wear one too/ said the captain, pointing 
to the pin in his necktie. ' Are you going to tell me 
that /am a traitor to the flag, sir? I warn you Pro- 
fessor, to be careful.' 

'What am I to think?' asked Jenkins. 

' It is rather more important what you say^ replied 
the captain. 'What is this fine conspiracy?' 

' I had read in England about the Berbalangs.' 

' Probably in Mr. Skertchley's curious paper in the 
Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal?' asked 
Bude with suavity. 

Jenkins merely stared at him. 

' I deemed that specimens of these American sub- 
jects, dowered with their strange and baneful gift, 
were well worthy of the study of American savants ; 
and I knew that the pearls were a certain prophy- 
lactic' 

' What 's that? ' asked the captain. 

' A kind of Universal Pain-Killer,' said Jenkins. 

' Well, you surprise me,' said the captain, ' a man 
of your education. Pain-Killer ! ' and he expecto- 
rated dexterously. 

' I mean that the pearls keep ofT the Berbalangs/ 
said Jenkins. 

' Then why did n't you lay in a stock of the pearls ? ' 
asked the captain. 

'Because these conspirators had been before me. 
These men, or their agents, had bought up, just be- 
fore our arrival, every pearl in the island. They had 
wormed out my secret, knew the object of my adven- 
ture, knew how to ruin us all, and I denounce them.' 

'A corner in pearls. Well, it was darned 'cute/ 



236 THE DISENTANGLERS 

said the captain impartially. ' Now, Mr. Jones Har- 
vey, and Mr. Logan, sir, what liBvej^ou to say? ' 

' Did Mr. Jenkins — I think you said that this gen- 
tleman's name is Jenkins ? — see the agent engaged 
in making this comer in pearls, or learn his name?' 
asked Bude. 

' He was an Irish American, one McCarthy,' 
answered Jenkins sullenly. 

' I am unacquainted with the gentleman,' said Bude, 
' and I never employed any one for any such purpose. 
My visit to Cagayan Sulu was some years ago, just 
after that of Mr. Skertchley. Captain Funkal, I have 
already acquainted you with the facts, and you were 
kind enough to say that you accepted my statement' 

' I did, sir, and I do,' answered the captain. ' As 
for you,' he went on, ' Mr. Professor Jenkins, when 
you found that your game was dangerous, indeed 
likely to be ruinous, to this scientific expedition, and 
to the crew of the George Washington — damn you, 
sir — you should have dropped it. I don't know that 
I ever swore at a passenger before, and I beg your 
pardon, you two English gentlemen, for so far forget- 
ting myself. I don't know, and these gentlemen don't 
know, who made the comer, but I don't think our citi* 
zens want either you or your exhibits. The whole pop- 
ulation of the States, sir, not to mention the live stock, 
cannot afford to go about wearing cocoa-nut pearls, a 
precaution which would be necessary if I landed these 
venomous Berbalangs of yours on our shores : man 
and wife too, likely to have a family of young Berba- 
langs. Snakes are not a patch on these darkeys, and 
our coloured population, at least, would be busted up.' 



ADVENTURE OF THE FAIR AMERICAN 237 

The captain paused, perhaps attracted by the chance 
of thus solving the negro problem. 

' So, I '11 tell you what it is, gentlemen ; and. Pro- 
fessor Jenkins, I'll turn back and land these two 
native exhibits, and I '11 put j^ou on shore, Professor 
Jenkins, at Cagayan Sulu. Perhaps before a steamer 
touches there — which is not once in a blue moon — 
you '11 have had time to write an exhaustive mono- 
graph on the Berbalangs, their manners and customs.' 

Jenkins (who knew what awaited him) threw him- 
self on the floor at the feet of Captain Funkal. Hor- 
rified by the abject distress of one who, after all, was 
their countryman, Bude and Logan induced the cap- 
tain to seclude Jenkins in his cabin. They then, by 
their combined entreaties, prevailed on the officer to 
land the Berbalangs on their own island, indeed, but 
to drop Jenkins later on civilised shores. Dawn saw 
the George Washington and the Pendragon in the port 
of Cagayan Sulu, where the fetters of the two natives, 
ill looking people enough, were knocked off, and they 
themselves deposited on the quay, where, not being 
popular, they were received by a hostile demonstra- 
tion. The two vessels then resumed their eastward 
course. The taxidermic appliances without which 
Jones Harvey never sailed, and the services of his 
staff of taxidermists, were placed at the disposal of 
his brother savants. By this means a stuffed Mylo- 
don, a stuffed Beathach, stuffed five-horned antelopes 
and a stuffed Bunyip, with a common gorilla and 
the Toltec mummy, now forever silent, were passed 
through the New York Custom House, and con- 
signed to the McCabe Museum of Natural Varieties. 



238 THE DISENTANGLERS 

The immense case that contained the discovery of 
Jones Harvey was also carefully conveyed to an apart- 
ment prepared for it in the same repository. The 
competitors sought their hotels, Te-iki-pa marching 
beside Logan and Jones Harvey. But» by special 
arrangement, either Jones Harvey or his Maori ally 
always slept beside their mysterious case, which they 
watched with passionate attention. Two or three 
days were spent in setting up the stuffed exhibits. 
Then the trustees, through The Yellow Flag (the 
paper founded by the late Mr. McCabe), announced 
to the startled citizens the nature of the competition. 
On successive days the vast theatre of the McCabe 
Museum would be open, and each competitor, in turn, 
would display to the public his contribution, and lec- 
ture on his adventures and on the variety of nature 
which he had secured. 

While the death of the animals was deplored, noth- 
ing was said, for obvious reasons, about the causes of 
the catastrophe. 

The general excitement was intense. Interviewers 
scoured the city, and flocked, to little purpose, 
around the officials of the McCabe Museum. Special 
trains were run from all quarters. The hotels were 
thronged. ' America,' it was announced, ' had taken 
hold of science, and was just going to make science 
hum.' 

On the first day of the exhibition. Dr. Hiram Dodge 
displayed the stuffed Mylodon. The agitation was un- 
precedented. America had bred, in ancient days, and 
an American citizen had discovered, the monstrous 
yet amiable animal whence prehistoric Patagonia drew 



ADVENTURE OF THE FAIR AMERICAN 239 

her milk supplies and cheese stuffs. Mr. Dodge's 
adventures, he modestly said, could only be ade- 
quately narrated by Mr. Rider Haggard. Unluckily 
the Mylodon had not survived the conditions of the 
voyage, the change of climates. The applause was 
thunderous. Mr. Dodge gracefully expressed his 
obligations to his fair and friendly rival, Mr. Jones 
Harvey, who had loaned his taxidermic appliances. It 
did not appear to the public that the Mylodon could 
be excelled in interest. The Toltec mummy, as he 
could no longer talk, was flat on a falling market, 
nor was Mr. Rustler's narrative of its conversational 
powers accepted by the scepticism of the populace, 
though it was corroborated by Captain Funkal, Pro- 
fessor Dodge, and Professor Wilkinson, who swore 
affidavits before a notary, within the hearing of the 
multitude. The Beathach, exhibited by Professor 
Potter, was reckoned of high anatomical interest by 
scientific characters, but it was not of American 
habitat, and left the people relatively cold. On the 
other hand, all the Macleans and Macdonnells of 
Canada and Nova Scotia wept tears of joy at the 
corroboration of their tribal legends, and the popu- 
larity of Professor Potter rivalled even that of Mr. 
Ian Maclaren. He was at once engaged by Major 
Pond for a series of lectures. The adventures of 
Howard Fry, in the taking of his gorilla, were reck- 
oned interesting, as were those of the captor of the 
Bunyip, but both animals were now undeniably dead. 
The people could not feed them with waffles and 
hominy cakes in the gardens of the institute. The 
savants wrangled on the anatomical differences and 



240 THE DISENTANGLERS 

resemblances of the Bunyip and the Beathach ; still 
the critters were, to the general mind, only stuffed 
specimens, though unique. The African five-horned 
brutes (though in quieter times they would have 
scored a triumph) did not now appeal to the heart 
of the people. 

At last came the day when, in the huge crowded 
amphitheatre, with Te-iki-pa by his side, Jones Har- 
vey addressed the congregation. First he exhibited 
a skeleton of a dinornis, a bird of about twenty-five 
feet in height 

' Now,' he went on, ' thanks to the assistance of a 
Maori gentleman, my friend the Tohunga Te-iki-pa ' 
— (cheers, Te-iki bows his acknowledgments) — * I 
propose to exhibit to you this* 

With a touch on the mechanism he unrolled the 
valves of a gigantic incubator. Within, recumbent on 
cotton wool, the almost frenzied spectators perceived 
two monstrous eggs, like those of the Roc of Arabian 
fable. Te-iki*pa now chanted a brief psalm in his 
own language. One of the eggs rolled gently in its 
place ; then the other. A faint crackling noise was 
heard, first from one, then from the other egg. From 
each emerged the featherless head of a fowl — the 
species hitherto unknown to the American continent 
The necks pushed forth, then the shoulders, then both 
shells rolled away in fragments, and the spectators 
gazed on two fledgling Moas. Te-iki-pa, on inspec- 
tion, pronounced them to be cock and hen, and in 
healthy condition. The breed, he said, could doubt- 
less be acclimatised. 

The professors of the museum, by Jones Harvey's 



ADVENTURE OF THE FAIR AMERICAN 241 

request, then closely examined the chickens. There 
could be no doubt of it, they unanimously asserted : 
these specimens were living deinornithe (which for 
scientific men, is not a bad shot at the dual of 
deinomis). The American continent was now en- 
dowed, through the enterprise of Mr. Jones Harvey, 
not only with living specimens, but with a probable 
breed of a species hitherto thought extinct. 

The cheering was led by Captain Funkal, who 
waved the Stars and Stripes and the Union Jack. 
Words cannot do justice to the scene. Women 
fainted, strong men wept, enemies embraced each 
other. For details we must refer to the files of 
The Yellow Flag, A plebiscite to select the winner 
of the McCabe Prize was organised by that Jour- 
nal. The Moas (bred and exhibited by Mr. Jones 
Harvey) simply romped in, by 1,732,901 votes, the 
Mylodon being a bad second, thanks to the Irish 
vote. 

Bude telegraphed * Victory,' and Miss McCabe by 
cable answered ' Bully for us.' 

The secret of these lovers was well kept. None 
who watches the fascinating Countess of Bude as she 
moves through the gilded saloons of Mayfair guesses 
that her hand was once the prize of success in a 
scientific exploration. The identity of Jones Harvey 
remains a puzzle to the learned. For the rest, a 
letter in which Jenkins told the story of the Ber- 
balangs was rejected by the Editor of Naturey and 
has not yet passed even the Literary Committee 
of the Society for Psychical Research. The classi- 
cal authority on the Berbalangs is still the paper 

16 



342 THE DISENTANGLERS 

by Mr. Skcrtchley in the Journal of the Asiatic 
Society of Bengal.^ The scientific gentlemen who 
witnessed the onslaught of the Berbalangs have 
convinced themselves (except Jenkins) that nothing 
of the sort occurred in their experience. The 
evidence of Captain Funkal is rejected as ' marine.' 

Te-iki-pa decided to remain in New York as cus- 
todian of the Moas. He occasionally obliges by 
exhibiting a few feats of native conjuring, when his 
performances are attended by the ilite of the city. 
He knows that his countrymen hold him in feud, but 
he is aware that they fear even more than they hate 
the ex-medicine man of his Maori Majesty. 

The generosity of Bude and his Countess heaped 
rewards on Merton, who vainly protested that his 
services had not been professional. 

The frequent appearance of new American novel- 
ists, whose works sell 250,000 copies in their first 
month, demonstrate that Mr. McCabe's scheme for 
raising the level of genius has been as satisfactory as 
it was original. Genius is riz. 

But who ' cornered ' the muddy pearls in Cagayan 
Sulu? 

That secret is only known to Lady Bude, her 
confessor, and the Irish-American agent whom she 
employed. For she, as we saw, had got at the 
nature of poor Jenkins's project and had acquainted 
herself with the wonderful properties of the pearls, 
which she cornered. 

' See also Monsieur Henri Junod, in Lis Ba-Ronga. Attin- 
ger, Neuchatel, 1898. Unlike Mr. Skertchley, M. Junod has 
not himself seen the creature. 



ADVENTURE OF THE FAIR AMERICAN 243 

As a patriot, she consoles herself for the loss of 
the other exhibits to her country, by the reflection 
that Berbalangs would have been the most mischie- 
vous of pauper immigrants. But of all this Bude 
knows nothing. 



XI 

ADVENTURE OF THE MISERLY MARQUIS 

/. The Marquis consults Gray and Graham 

FEW men were, and perhaps no marquis was so 
unpopular as the Marquis of Restalrig, Logo's 
maternal Scotch cousin, widely removed. He was 
the last of his family, in the direct line, and on his 
death almost all his vast wealth would go to nobody 
knew where. To be sure Lx>gan himself would suc- 
ceed to the title of Fastcastle, which descends to 
heirs general, but nothing worth having went with the 
title. Logan had only the most distant memory of 
seeing the marquis when he himself was a little boy, 
and the marquis gave him two sixpences. His rela- 
tionship to his opulent though remote kinsman had 
been of no service to him in the struggle for social 
existence. It carried no ' expectations,' and did not 
afford the most shadowy basis for a post obit. There 
was no entail, the marquis could do as he liked with 
his own. 

* The Jews may have been credulous in the time of 
Horace,' Logan said, ' but now they insist on the 
most drastic evidence of prospective wealth. No, 
they won't lend me a shekel.' 

Events were to prove that other financial operators 
were better informed than the chosen people, though 



ADVENTURE OF THE MISERLY MARQUIS 245 

to be sure their belief was displayed in a manner at 
once grotesque and painfully embarrassing. 

Why the marquis was generally disliked we might 
explain, historically, if we were acquainted with the 
tale of his infancy, early youth, and adolescence. 
Perhaps he had been betrayed in his affections, and 
was ' taking it out ' of mankind in general. But this 
notion implies that the marquis once had some affec- 
tions, a point not hitherto substantiated by any 
evidence. Perhaps heredity was to blame, some 
unhappy blend of parentage. An ancestor at an un- 
known period may have bequeathed to the marquis 
the elements of his unalluring character. But the 
only ancestor of marked temperament was the festive 
Logan of Restalrig, who conspired over his cups to 
kidnap a king, laid out his plot on the lines of an 
Italian novel, and died without being detected. This 
heroic ancestor admitted that he hated ' arguments 
derived from religion,' and, so far, the Marquis of 
Restalrig was quite with him, if the arguments bore 
on giving to the poor, or, indeed, to any one. 

In fact the marquis was that unpopular character, 
a miser. Your miser may be looked up to, in a way, 
as aa ideal votary of Mammon, but he is never loved. 
On his vast possessions, mainly in coal-fields, he was 
even more detested than the ordinary run of capitalists. 
The cottages and farmhouses on his estates were 
dilapidated and insanitary beyond what is endurable. 
Of his many mansions, some were kept in decent 
repair, because he drew many shillings from tourists 
admitted to view them. But his favourite abode was 
almost as ruinous as his cottages, and an artist in 



346 THE DISENTANGLERS 

search of a model for the domestic interior of the 
Master of Ravenswood might have found what he 
wanted at Kirkburn, the usual lair of this avaricious 
nobleman. It was a keep of the sixteenth century, 
and looked as if it had never been papered or painted 
since Queen Mary's time. But it was near the 
collieries ; and within its blackened walls, and among 
its bleak fields and grimy trees, Lord Restalrig chose 
to live alone, with an old man and an old woman for 
his attendants. The woman had been his nurse ; it 
was whispered in the district that she was also his 
illegal-aunt, or perhaps even, so to speak, his illegal 
stepmother. At all events, she endured more than 
anybody but a Scotch woman who had been his 
nurse in childhood would have tolerated. To keep 
her in his service saved him the cost of a pension, 
which even the marquis, people thought, could hardly 
refuse to allow her. The other old servitor was her 
husband, and entirely under her domination. Both 
might be reckoned staunch, in the old fashion, 'to 
the name,' which Lx>gan only bore by accident, his 
grandmother having wedded a kinless Logan who had 
no demonstrable connection with the house of Restal- 
rig. Any mortal but the marquis would probably have 
brought Logan up as his heir, for the churlish peer 
had no nearer connection. But the marquis did 
more than sympathise with the Roman emperor who 
quoted ' after me the Last Day.' The emperor only 
meant that, after his time, he did not care how soon 
earth and fire were mingled. The marquis, on the 
other hand, gave the impression that, he once out of 
the way, he ardently desired the destruction of the 



ADVENTURE OF THE MISERLY MARQUIS 347 

whole human race. He was not known ever to have 
consciously benefited man or woman. He screwed 
out what he might from everybody in his power, and 
made no returns which the law did not exact ; even 
these, as far as the income tax went, he kept at the 
lowest figure possible. 

Such was the distinguished personage whose card 
was handed to Merton one morning at the office. 
There had been no previous exchange of letters, 
according to the rules of the Society, and yet Merton 
could not suppose that the marquis wished to see him 
on any but business matters. ' He wants to put a 
spoke in somebody's wheel,' thought Merton, 'but 
whose ? ' 

He hastily scrawled a note for Logan, who, as 
usual, was late, put it in an envelope, and sealed it. 
He wrote : ' On no account come in. Explanation later! 
Then he gave the note to the office boy, impressed 
on him the necessity of placing it in Lx>gan's hands 
when he arrived, and told the boy to admit the 
visitor. 

The marquis entered, clad in rusty black not unlike 
a Scotch peasant's best raiment as worn at funerals. 
He held a dripping umbrella ; his boots were muddy, 
his trousers had their frayed ends turned up. He 
wore a hard, cruel red face, with keen grey eyes 
beneath penthouses where age had touched the 
original tawny red with snow. Merton, bowing, took 
the umbrella and placed it in a stand. 

' You '11 not have any snufT? ' asked the marquis. 

Trevor had placed a few enamelled snufi^boxes of 
the eighteenth century among the other co^Ay bibelots 



248 THE DISENTANGLERS 

in the rooms, and, by an unusual chance, one of them 
actually did contain what the marquis wanted. 
Merton opened it and handed it to the peer, who, 
after trying a pinch on his nostrils, poured a quantity 
into his hand and thence into a little black mull made 
of horn, which he took from his breast pocket. ' It 's 
good,' he said. ' Better than I get at Kirkbum. 
You '11 know who I am? ' His accent was nearly as 
broad as that of one of his own hinds, and he some- 
times used Scottish words, to Merton's perplexity. 

' Every one has heard of the Marquis of Restalrig,' 
said Merton. 

' Ay, and little to his good, I '11 be bound ? ' 

' I do not listen to gossip,' said Merton. * I 
presume, though you have not addressed me by 
letter, that your visit is not unconnected with 
business?' 

' No, no, no letters ! I never was wasteful in postage 
stamps. But as I was in London, to see the doctor, 
for the Edinburgh ones can make nothing of the case 
— a kind of dwawming — I looked in at auld Nicky 
Maxwell's. She gave me a good character of you, 
and she is one to lippen to. And you make no 
charge for a first interview.' 

Merton vaguely conjectured that to ' lippen ' implied 
some sort of caress ; however, he only said that he 
was obliged to Miss Maxwell for her kind estimate of 
his firm. 

* Gray and Graham, good Scots names. You 11 
not be one of the Grahams of Netherby, though ? * 

' The name of the firm is merely conventional, a 
trading title,' said Merton ; ' if you want to know my 



ADVENTURE OF THE MISERLY MARQUIS 349 

name, there it is/ and he handed his card to the 
marquis, who stared at it, and (apparently from 
motiveless acquisitiveness) put it into his pocket. 

' I don't like an alias/ he said. ' But it seems you 
are to lippen to.' 

From the context Merton now understood that the 
marquis probably wished to signify that he was to be 
trusted. So he bowed, and expressed a hope that he 
was ' all that could be desired in the lippening way.' 

' You 're laughing at my Doric? ' asked the noble- 
man. ' Well, in the only important way, it 's not at 
my expense. Ha! Hal' He shook a lumbering 
laugh out of himself. 

Merton smiled — and was bored. 

' I 'm come about stopping a marriage/ said the 
marquis, at last arriving at business. 

' My experience is at your service/ said Merton. 

'Well,' went on the marquis, 'ours is an old name.* 

Merton remarked that, in the course of historical 
study, he had made himself acquainted with the 
achievements of the house. 

'Auld warld tales! But I wish I could tell where 
the treasure is that wily auld Logan quarrelled over 
with the wizard Laird of Merchistoun. Logan would 
not implement the contract — half profits. But my 
wits are wool gathering.' 

He began to wander round the room, looking at 
the mezzotints. He stopped in front of one portrait, 
and said ' My Aunt ! ' Merton took this for an ex- 
clamation of astonishment, but later found that the 
lady (after Lawrence) really had been the great aunt 
of the marquis. 



2SO THE DISENTANGLERS 

Merton conceived that the wits of his visitor were 
worse than ' wool gathering/ that he had ' softening 
oi the brain.' But circumstances presently indicated 
that Lord Restalrig was actually suffering from a 
much less common disorder — softening of the heart 

He returned to his seat, and helped himself to 
snuff out of the enamelled gold box, on which Mer- 
ton deemed it politic to keep a watchful eye. 

' Man, I 'm sweir ' (reluctant) ' to come to the 
point/ said Lord Restalrig. 

Merton erroneously understood him to mean that 
he was under oath or vow to come to the point, and 
showed a face of attention. 

' I 'm not the man I was. The doctors don't under- 
stand my case — they take awful fees — but I see they 
think ill of it. And that sets a body thinking. Have 
you a taste of brandy in the house?' 

As the visitor's weather-beaten ruddiness had 
changed to a ghastly ashen hue, rather bordering on 
the azure, Merton set forth the liqueur case, and drew 
a bottle of soda water. 

* No water,' said the peer ; ' it 's just ma twal' ours, 
an auld Scotch fashion,' and he took without winking 
an orthodox dram of brandy. Then he looked at the 
silver tops of the flasks. 

' A good coat ! ' he said. ' Yours? ' 

Merton nodded. 

'Ye quarter the Douglas Heart. A good coat 
Dod, I '11 speak plain. The name, Mr. Merton, when 
ye come to the end o' the furrow, the name is all ye 
have left. We brought nothing into the world but 
the name, we take out nothing else. A sore dispen- 



ADVENTURE OF THE MISERLY MARQUIS 251 

sation. I 'm not the man I was, not this two years. 
I must dispone, I know it well. Now the name, that 
I thought that I cared not an empty whisde for, is 
worn to a rag, but I cannot leave it in the mire. 
There *s just one that bears it, one Logan by name, 
and true Logan by the mother's blood. The mother's 
mother, my cousin, was a bonny lass.' 

He paused ; his enfeebled memory was wandering, 
no doubt, in scenes more vivid to him than those of 
yesterday. 

Merton was now attentive indeed. The miserly 
marquis had become, to him, something other than a 
curious survival of times past. There was a chance 
for Logan, his friend, the last of the name, but Logan 
was firmly affianced to Miss Markham, of the cloak 
department at Madame Claudine's. And the marquis, 
as he said, ' had come about stopping a marriage,' 
and Merton was to help him in stopping it, in disen- 
tangling Logan ! 

The old man aroused himself. ' I have never seen 
the lad but once, when he was a bairn. But I've 
kept eyes on him. He has nothing, and since I came 
to London I hear that he has gone gyte, I mean — 
ye '11 not understand me — he is plighted to a long- 
legged shop-lass, the daughter of a ne'er-do-well 
Australian land-louper, a doctor. This must not be. 
Now I '11 speak plain to you, plainer than to Tod and 
Brock, my doers — ye call them lawyers. TAey did 
not make my will.' 

Merton prevented himself, by an effort, from gasp- 
ing. He kept a countenance of cold attention. But 
the marquis was coming to the point 



25 a THE DISENTANGLERS 

' I have left all to the name, lands and rents, and 
mines, and money. But, unless the lad marries in 
his own rank, I '11 change my will. It 's in the hidie 
hole at Kirkburn, that Logan built to keep King 
Jamie in, when he caught him. But the fool Ruth- 
vens marred that job, and got their kail through the 
reek. I 'm wandering.' He helped himself to another 
dram, and went on, ' Ye see what I want, ye must 
stop that marriage.' 

' But,' said Merton, ' as you are so kindly disposed 
towards your kinsman, this Mr. Logan, may I ask 
whether it would not be wise to address him yourself, 
as the head of his house ? He may, surely he will, 
listen to your objections.' 

' Ye do not know the Logans.' 

Merton concealed his smile. 

*Camstairy deevils! It's in the blood; Never 
once has he asked me for a pound, never noticed me 
by word or letter. Faith, I wish all the world had 
been as considerate to auld Restalrigl For me to 
say a word, let be to make an offer, would just tie him 
faster to the lass. " Tyne troth, tync a'," that is the 
old bye-word.* 

Merton recognised his friend in this description, 
but he merely shook a sympathetic head. 'Very 
unusual,' he remarked. 'You really have no hope 
by this method?' 

* None at all, or I would not be here on this daft 
ploy. There 's no fool like an auld fool, and, faith, I 
hardly know the man I was. But they cannot dis- 
pute the will. I drew doctors to witness that I was 
of sound and disponing mind, and I 've since been 



ADVENTURE OF THE MISERLY MARQUIS 253 

thrice to kirk and market. Lord, how they stared 
to see auld Restalrig in his pew, that had not smelt 
appleringie these forty years.' 

Merton noted these words, which he thought cur- 
ious and obscure. ' Your case interests me deeply,' 
he said, ' and shall receive my very best attention. 
You perceive, of course, that it is a difficult case, 
Mr. Logan's character and tenacity being what you 
describe. I must make careful inquiries, and shall 
inform you of progress. You wish to see this engage- 
ment ended?' 

' And the lad on with a lass of his rank,' said the 
marquis. 

* Probably that will follow quickly on the close of 
his present affection. It usually does in our exper- 
ience,' said Merton, adding, ' Am I to write to you at 
your London address?' 

' No, sir ; these London hotels would ruin the 
cunzie' (the Mint). 

Merton wondered whether the Cunzie was the title 
of some wealthy Scotch peer. 

' And I 'm off for Kirkbum by the night express. 
Here 's wishing luck,' and the old sinner finished the 
brandy. 

' May I call a cab for you — it still rains? ' 

' No, no, I '11 travel,' by which the economical peer 
meant that he would walk. 

He then shook Merton by the hand, and hobbled 
downstairs attended by his adviser. 

' Did Mr. Logan call ? ' Merton asked the office 
boy when the marquis had trotted off. 

'Yes, sir; he said you would find him at the club.' 



ISA THE DISENTANGLERS 

'Call a hansom/ said Merton, 'and put up the 
notice, "out."* He drove to the club, where he 
found Logan ordering luncheon. 

' Hullo, shall we lunch together?' Logan asked. 

* Not yet : I want to speak to you.' 

* Nothing gone wrong? Why did you shut me out 
of the office?' 

' Where can we talk without being disturbed? ' 

*Try the smoking-room on the top storey,' said 
Logan, 'Nobody will have climbed so high so 
early.' 

They made the ascent, and found the room vacant: 
the windows looked out over swirling smoke and trees 
tossing in a wind of early spring. 

'Quiet enough,' said Logan, taking an arm-chair. 
' Now out with it I You make me quite nervous.' 

' A client has come with what looks a promising 
piece of business. We are to disentangle ' 

'A royal duke?' 

'No. You!' 

' A practical joke,' said Logan. ' Somebody pull- 
ing your leg, as people say, a most idiotic way of 
speaking. What sort of client was he, or she ? 
We '11 be even with them.* 

'The client's card is here,' said Merton, and he 
handed to Logan that of the Marquis of Restalrig. 

'You never saw him before; are you sure it was 
the man?' asked Logan, staggered in his scepticism. 

' A very good imitation. Dressed like a farmer at 
a funeral. Talked like all the kailyards. Snuffed, 
and asked for brandy, and went and came, walking, 
in this weather.' 



ADVENTURE OF THE MISERLY MARQUIS 255 

' By Jove, it is my venerated cousin. And he had 
heard about me and Miss * 

' He was quite well informed.' 

Logan looked very grave. He rose and stared out 
of the window into the mist. Then he came back, 
and stood beside Merton's chair. He spoke in a low 
voice : 

' This can only mean one thing.' 

' Only that one thing/ said Merton, dropping his 
own voice. 

* What did you say to him ? ' 

' I told him that his best plan, as the head of the 
house, was to approach you himself.' 

' And he said ? ' 

' That it was of no use, and that I do not know the 
Logans.' 

' But you do ? ' 

' I think so.' 

'You think right. No, not for all his lands and 
mines I won't.' 

' Not for the name ? ' 

* Not for the kingdoms of the earth,' said Logan. 
' It is a great refusal.' 

' I have really no temptation to accept,' said Logan. 
' I am not built that way. So what next? If the 
old boy could only see her ' 

' I doubt if that would do any good, though, of 
course, if I were you I should think so. He goes 
north to-night. You can't take the lady to Kirkburn. 
And you can't write to him.' 

* Of course not,' said Logan ; ' of course it would 
be all up if he knew that I know.' 



256 THE DISENTANGLERS 

' There is this to be said — it is not a very pleasant 
view to take — he can't live long. He came to see 
some London specialist — it is his heart, I think ' 

' His heart ! 

How Fortune aristophanises 
And how severe the fun of Fatel ' 

quoted Logan. 

' The odd thing is/ said Merton, ' that I do believe 
he has a heart. I rather like him. At all events, I 
think, from what I saw, that a sudden start might set 
him off at any moment, or an unusual exertion. And 
he may go off before I tell him that I can do nothing 
with you ' 

' Oh, hang that,' said Logan, ' you make me feel 
like a beastly assassin I ' 

' I only want you to understand how the land lies.' 
Merton dropped his voice again, ' He has made a will 
leaving you everything.' 

' Poor old cock I Look here, I believe I had better 
write, and say that I 'm awfully touched and obliged, 
but that I can't come into his views, or break my 
word, and then, you know, he can just make another 
will. It would be a swindle to let him die, and come 
into his property, and then go dead against his 
wishes.' 

'But it would be all right to give me away, I 
suppose, and let him understand that I had violated 
professional confidence?' 

' Only with a member of the firm. That is no 
violation.' 

' But then I should have told him that you wen a 
member of the firm.' 



ADVENTURE OF THE MISERLY MARQUIS 257 

' I 'm afraid you should.' 

' Logan, you have the ideas of a schoolboy. I had 
to be certain as to how you would take it, though, of 
course, I had a very good guess. And as to what 
you say about the chances of his dying and leaving 
everything where he would not have left it if he had 
been sure you would act against his wishes — I believe 
you are wrong. What he really cares about is " the 
name." His ghost will put up with your disobedience 
if the name keeps its old place. Do you see ? ' 

' Perhaps you are right/ said Logan. 

'Anyhow, there is no such pressing hurry. One 
may bring hini round with time. A curious old sur- 
vival ! I did not understand all that he said. There 
was something about having been thrice at kirk and 
market since he made his will ; and something about 
not having smelled appleringie for forty years. What 
is appleringie?' 

Logan laughed. 

' It is a sacred Presbyterian herb. The people 
keep it in their Bibles and it perfumes the churches. 
But look here ' 

He was interrupted by the entrance of a page, who 
handed to him a letter. Logan read it and laughed. 
' I knew it ; they are sharp ! ' he said, and handed the 
letter to Merton. It was from a famous, or infamous, 
money-lender, offering princely accommodation on 
terms which Mr. Logan would find easy and 
reasonable. 

'They have nosed the appleringie, you see,' he 
said. 

' But I don't see,' said Merton. 

17 



2S8 THE DISENTANGLERS 

' Why the hounds have heard that the old nobleman 
has been thrice to kirk lately. And as he had not 
been there for forty years, they have guessed that he 
has been making his will. Scots law has, or used to 
have, something in it about going thrice to kirk and 
market after making a will — disponing they call it — 
as a proof of bodily and mental soundness. So they 
have spotted the marquis's pious motives for kirk- 
going, and guessed that I am his heir. I say ' 

Logan began to laugh wildly. 

'What do you say?' asked Merton, but Logan 
went on hooting. 

* I say,' he repeated, ' it must never be known that 
the old lord came to consult us,' and here he was 
again convulsed. 

* Of course not,' said Merton. ' But where is the 
joke?' 

* Why, don't you see — oh, it is too good — he has 
taken every kind of precaution to establish his sanity 
when he made his will.' 

' He told me that he had got expert evidence,' said 
Merton. 

'And then he comes and consults US ! ' said Logan, 
with a crow of laughter. ' If any fellow wants to break 
the will on the score of insanity, and knows, knows he 
came to us, a jury, when they find he consulted us, 
will jolly well upset the cart.' 

Merton was hurt. 

' Logan,' he said, * it is you who ought to be in an 
asylum, an Asylum for Incurable Children. Don't 
you see that he made the will long before he took the 
very natural and proper step of consulting Messrs. 
Gray and Graham ? ' 



ADVENTURE OF THE MISERLY MARQUIS 259 

' Let us pray that, if there is a suit, it won't come 
before a Scotch jury/ said Logan. 'Anyhow, no- 
body knows that he came except you and me.' 

' And the office boy,' said Merton. 

*Oh, we'll square the office boy,' said Logan. 
' Let 's lunch ! ' 

They lunched, and Logan, as was natural, though 
Merton urged him to abstain, hung about the doors 
of Madame Claudine's emporium at the hour when 
the young ladies returned to their homes. He walked 
home with Miss Markham. He told her about his 
chances, and his views, and no doubt she did not 
think him a person of schoolboy ideas, but a Bayard. 

Two days passed, and in the afternoon of the third 
a telegram arrived for Logan from Kirkburn. 

* Come at once^ Marquis very ill. Dr, Douglas, 
Kirkburn* 

There was no express train North till 8.45 in the 
evening. Merton dined with Logan at King's Cross, 
and saw him off. He would reach his cousin's house 
at about six in the morning if the train kept time. 

About nine o'clock on the morning following 
Logan's arrival at Kirkburn Merton was awakened : 
the servant handed to him a telegram. 

' Come instantly. Highly important. Logan, Kirk-- 
burn* 

Merton dressed himself more rapidly than he had 
ever done, and caught the train leaving King's Cross 
at 10 A.M. 



26o TH£ DISENTANGLERS 



//. The Emu's Feathers 

The landscape through which Merton passed on 
his northward way to Kirkburn, whither Logan had 
summoned him, was blank with snow. The snow 
was not more than a couple of inches deep where it 
had not drifted, and, as frost had set in, it was not 
likely to deepen. There was no fear of being snowed 
up. 

Merton naturally passed a good deal of his time in 
wondering what had occurred at Kirkburn, and why 
Logan needed his presence. ' The poor old gentle- 
man has passed away suddenly, I suppose/ he re- 
flected, ' and Logan may think that I know where he 
has deposited his will. It is in some place that the 
marquis called "the hidie hole," and that, from his 
vagrant remarks, appears to be a secret chamber, as 
his ancestor meant to keep James VL there. I wish 
he had cut the throat of that prince, a bad fellow. 
But, of course, I don't know where the chamber is : 
probably some of the people about the place know, 
or the lawyer who made the will.' 

However freely Merton' s consciousness might play 
round the problem, he could get no nearer to its solu- 
tion. At Berwick he had to leave the express, and 
take a local train. In the station, not a nice station, 
he was accosted by a stranger, who asked if he was 
Mr. Merton? The stranger, a wholesome, red*faced, 
black-haired man, on being answered in the affirma- 
tive, introduced himself as Dr. Douglas, of Kirkburn. 

' You telegraphed to my friend Logan the news of 



ADVENTURE OF THE MISERLY MARQUIS 261 

the marquis's illness/ said Merton. ' I fear you have 
no better news to give me.' 

Dr. Douglas shook his head. 

A curious little crowd was watching the pair from 
a short distance. There was an air of solemnity about 
the people, which was not wholly due to the chill grey 
late afternoon, and the melancholy sea. 

* We have an hour to wait, Mr. Merton, before the 
local train starts, and afterwards there is a bit of a 
drive. It is cold, we would be as well in the inn as 
here.' 

The doctor beat his gloved hands together to re- 
store the circulation. 

Merton saw that the doctor wished to be with him 
in private, and the two walked down into the town, 
where they got a comfortable room, the doctor order- 
ing boiling water and the other elements of what he 
called ' a cheerer.' When the cups which cheer had 
been brought, and the men were alone, the doctor 
said: 

' It is as you suppose, Mr. Merton, but worse.' 

' Great heaven, no accident has happened to 
Logan?' asked Merton. 

' No, sir, and he would have met you himself at 
Berwick, but he is engaged in making inquiries and 
taking precautions at Kirkburn.' 

' You do not mean that there is any reason to sus- 
pect foul play? The marquis, I know, was in bad 
health. You do not suspect — murder? ' 

* No, sir, but — the marquis is gone.' 

'I know he is gone, your telegram and what I 
observed of his health led me to fear the worst.' 



263 THE DISENTANGLERS 

' But his body is gone — vanished/ 

' You suppose that it has been stolen (you know the 
American and other cases of the same kind) for the 
purpose of extracting money from the heir?' 

* That is the obvious view, whoever the heir may 
be. So far, no will has been found/ the doctor added 
some sugar to his cheerer, and some whisky to correct 
the sugar. ' The neighbourhood is very much ex- 
cited. Mr. Logan has telegraphed to London for 
detectives.' 

Merton reflected in silence. 

* The obvious view is not always the correct one/ 
he said. ' The marquis was, at least I thought that 
he was, a very eccentric person.' 

' No doubt about that! said the doctor. 

'Very well. He had reasons, such reasons as 
might occur to a mind like his, for wanting to test the 
character and conduct of Mr. Logan, his only living 
kinsman. What I am going to say will seem absurd to 
you, but — the marquis spoke to me of his malady as 
a kind of" dwawming," I did not know what he meant, 
at the time, but yesterday I consulted the glossary of 
a Scotch novel : to dwawm^ I think, is to lose con- 
sciousness ? ' 

The doctor nodded. 

' Now you have read,' said Merton, ' the case pub- 
lished by Dr. Cheyne, of a gentleman, Colonel Town- 
send, who could voluntarily produce a state of 
'' dwawm " which was not then to be distinguished 
from death?' 

'I have read it in the notes to Aytoun's Scottish 
Cavaliers^ said the doctor. 



ADVENTURE OF THE MISERLY MARQUIS 263 

' Now, then, suppose that the marquis, waking out 
of such a state, whether voluntarily induced (which 
is very improbable) or not, thought fit to withdraw 
himself, for the purpose of secretly watching, from 
some retreat, the behaviour of his heir, if he has made 
Mr. Logan his heir? Is that hypothesis absolutely 
out of keeping with his curious character?' 

' No. It 's crazy enough, if you will excuse me, 
but, for these last few weeks, at any rate, I would 
have swithered about signing a fresh certificate to 
the marquis's sanity.' 

' You did, perhaps, sign one when he made his will, 
as he told me?' 

' I, and Dr. Gourlay, and Professor Grant,' the 
doctor named two celebrated Edinburgh specialists. 
* But just of late I would not be so certain.' 

'Then my theory need not necessarily be wrong?' 

' It can't but be wrong. First, I saw the man dead.' 

' Absolute tests of death are hardly to be procured, 

of course you know that better than I do,' said 

Merton. 

' Yes, but I am positive, or as positive as one can 

be, in the circumstances. However, that is not what I 

stand on. There was a witness who saw the marquis 

go: 

* Go — how did he go?' 
' He disappeared.' 

* The body disappeared ? ' 

' It did, but you had better hear the witness's own 
account ; I don't think a second-hand story will con- 
vince you, especially as you have a theory.' 

' Was the witness a man or a woman? ' 



264 THE DISENTANGLERS 

' A woman/ said the doctor. 

* Oh ! ' said Merton. 

* I know what you mean/ said the doctor. * You 
think, it suits your theory, that the marquis came to 
himself and ' 

' And squared the female watcher/ interrupted 
Merton ; ' she would assist him in his crazy stratagem.* 

* Mr. Merton, you Ve read ower many novels,' said 
the doctor, lapsing into the vernacular. ' Well, your 
notion is not unthinkable, nor pheesically impossible. 
She 's a queer one, Jean Bower, that waked the corpse, 
sure enough. However, you '11 soon be on the spot, 
and can examine the case for yourself. Mr. Logan 
has no idea but that the body was stolen for purposes 
of black-mail.' He looked at his watch. * We must 
be going to catch the train, if she 's anything like 
punctual/ 

The pair walked in silence to the station, were again 
watched curiously by the public (who appeared to 
treat the station as a club), and after three-quarters 
of an hour of slow motion and stoppages, arrived at 
their destination, Drem. 

The doctor's own man with a dog-cart was in 
waiting. 

' The marquis had neither machine nor horse,' the 
doctor explained. 

Through the bleak late twilight they were driven, 
past two or three squalid mining villages, along a 
road where the ruts showed black as coal through 
the freezing snow. Out of one village, the lights 
twinkling in the windows, they turned up a steep road, 
which, after a couple of hundred yards, brought them 



ADVENTURE OF THE MISERLY MARQUIS 265 

to the old stone gate posts, surmounted by heraldic 
animals. 

* The late marquis sold the worked-iron gates to a 
dealer/ said the doctor. 

At the avenue gates, so steep was the ascent, both 
men got out and walked. 

' You see the pits come up close to the house/ said 
the doctor, as they reached the crest. He pointed 
to some tall chimneys on the eastern slope, which 
sank quite gradually to the neighbouring German 
Ocean, but ended in an abrupt rocky cliff. 

'Is that a fishing village in the cleft of the cliffs? 
I think I see a red roof/ said Merton. 

' Ay, that 's Strutherwick, a fishing village,' replied 
the doctor. 

'A very easy place, on your theory, for an escape 
with the body by boat,' said Merton. 

' Ay, that is just it,' acquiesced the doctor. 

' But,' asked Merton, as they reached the level, and 
saw the old keep black in front of them, ' what is that 
rope stretched about the lawn for? It seems to go 
all round the house, and there are watchers.' Dark 
figures with lanterns were visible at intervals, as Mer- 
ton peered into the gathering gloom. The watchers 
paced to and fro like sentinels. 

The door of the house opened, and a man's figure 
stood out against the lamp light within. 

'Is that you, Merton?' came Logan's voice from 
the doorway. 

Merton answered ; and the doctor remarked, ' Mr. 
Logan will tell you what the rope 's for.' 

The friends shook hands; the doctor, having de* 



266 THE DISENT ANGLERS 

posited Merton's baggage, pleaded an engagement, 
and said * Good-bye/ among the thanks of Logan. 
An old man, a kind of silent Caleb Balderstone, car- 
ried Merton's light luggage up a black turnpike stair. 

* I Ve put you in the turret ; it is the least dilapi- 
dated room/ said Logan. ' Now, come in here/ 

He led the way into a hall on the ground-floor. 
A great Are in the ancient hearth, with its heavy 
heraldically carved stone chimney-piece, lit up the 
desolation of the chamber. 

' Sit down and warm yourself/ said Logan, pushing 
forward a ponderous oaken chair, with a high back 
and short arms. 

'I know a good deal,' said Merton, his curiosity 
hurrying him to the point ; ' but first, Logan, what 
is the rope on the stakes driven in round the house 
for?' 

' That was my first precaution,' said Logan. ' I 
heard of the — of what has happened — about four 
in the morning, and I instantly knocked in the stakes 
— hard work with the frozen ground — and drew the 
rope along, to isolate the snow about the house. 
When I had done that, I searched the snow for foot- 
marks.' 

'When had the snow begun to fall?' 

* About midnight. I turned out then to look at the 
night before going to bed.' 

' And there was nothing wrong then? ' 
' He lay on his bed in the laird's chamber. I had 
just left it I left him with the watcher of the dead. 
There was a plate of salt on his breast. The house- 
keeper, Mrs. Bower, keeps up the old ways. Candles 



ADVENTURE OF THE MISERLY MARQUIS 267 

were burning all round the bed. A fearful waste he 
would have thought it, poor old man. The devils ! 
If I could get on their track ! ' said Logan, clenching 
his fist. 

' You have found no tracks, then? ' 

' None. When I examined the snow there was not 
a footmark on the roads to the back door or the front 
— not a footmark on the whole area.' 

* Then the removal of the body from the bedroom 
was done from within. Probably the body is still in 
the house.' 

' Certainly it has been taken out by no known exit, 
if it Aas been taken out, as I believe. I at once ar- 
ranged relays of sentinels — men from the coal-pits. 
But the body is gone ; I am certain of it A fishing- 
boat went out from the village, Strutherwick, before 
the dawn. It came into the little harbour after mid- 
night — some night-wandering lover saw it enter — 
and it must have sailed again before dawn.' 

'Did you examine the snow near the harbour?' 

' I could not be ever}nvhere at once, and I was single- 
handed ; but I sent down the old serving-man, John 
Bower. He is stupid enough, but I gave him a note 
to any fisherman he might meet. Of course these 
people are not detectives.' 

' And was there any result? ' 

'Yes; an odd one. But it confirms the obvious 
theory of body-snatching. Of course, fishers arc early 
risers, and they went trampling about confusedly. But 
they did find curious tracks. We have isolated some 
of them, and even managed to carry off a couple. 
We dug round them, and lifted them. A neighbour- 



268 THE DISENTANGLERS 

ing laird, Mr. Maitland, lent his ice-house for storing 
these, and I had one laid down on the north side of 
this house to show you, if the frost held. No ice* 
house or refrigerator here^ of course.' 

* Let me see it now.* 

Logan took a lighted candle — the night was frosty, 
without a wind — and led Merton out under the black, 
ivy-clad walls. Merton threw his greatcoat on the 
snow and knelt on it, peering at the object. He saw 
a large flat clod of snow and earth. On its surface 
was the faint impress of a long oval, longer than the 
human foot; feathery marks running in both direc- 
tions from the centre could be descried. Looking 
closer, Merton detected here and there a tiny feather 
and a flock or two of down adhering to the frozen 
mass. 

'May I remove some of these feathery things?' 
Merton asked. 

•Certainly. But why?' 

'We can't carry the clod indoors, it would melt; 
and it may melt if the weather changes ; and by bad 
luck there may be no feathers or down adhering to 
the other clods — those in the laird's ice-house.' 

* You think you have a clue? ' 

'I think,' said Merton, 'that these are emu's 
feathers ; but, whether they are or not, they look like 
a clue. Still, I think they are emu's feathers.' 
' Why? The emu is not an indigenous bird.' 
As he spoke, an idea — several ideas — flashed on 
Merton. He wished that he had held his peace. He 
put the little shreds into his pocket-book, rose, and 
donned his greatcoat. ' How cold it is ! ' he said. 



ADVENTURE OF THE MISERLY MARQUIS 269 

' Logan, would you mind very much if I said no more 
just now about the feathers? I really have a notion 

— which may be a good one, or may be a silly one 

— and, absurd as it appears, you will seriously oblige 
me by letting me keep my own counsel.' 

' It is damned awkward,' said Logan testily. 

' Ah, old boy, but remember that " damned awk- 
ward ** is a damned awkward expression.' 

' You are right,' said Logan heartily ; * but I rose 
very early, I'm very tired, I 'm rather savage. Let 's 
go in and dine.' 

' All right,' said Merton. 

' I don't think,' said Logan, as they were entering 
the house, ' that I need keep these miners on sentry 
go any longer. The bird — the body, I mean — has 
flown. Whoever the fellows were that made these 
tracks, and however they got into and out of the 
house, they have carried the body away. I'll pay 
the watchers and dismiss them.' 

' All right,' said Merton. * I won't dress. I must 
return to town by the night train. No time to be 
lost.' 

' No train to be caught,' said Logan, ' unless you 
drive or walk to Berwick from here — which you 
can't. You can't walk to Dunbar, to catch the 10.20, 
and I have nothing that you can drive.' 

' Can I send a telegram to town ? ' 

' It is four miles to the nearest telegraph station, 
but I dare say one of the sentinels would walk there 
for a consideration.' 

' No use,' said Merton. ' I should need to wire in 
a cipher, when I come to think of it, and cipher I 



270 THE DISENTANGLERS 

have none. I must go as early as I can to-morrow. 
Let us consult Bradshaw/ 

They entered the house. Merton had a Bradshaw 
in his dressing-bag. They found that he could catch 
a train at 10.49 A.M., and be in London about 9 P.M. 

* How are you to get to the station ? ' asked Logan. 
' I '11 tell you how/ he went on. * I '11 send a note to 
the inn at the place, and order a trap to be here at 
ten. That'Will give you lots of time. It is about four 
miles.' 

* Thank you/ said Merton ; ' I see no better way.' 
And while Logan went to pay and dismiss the sentries 
and send a messenger, a grandson of the old butler 
with the note to the innkeeper, Merton toiled up the 
narrow turnpike stair to the turret chamber. A fire 
had been burning all day, and in firelight almost any 
room looks tolerable. There was a small four-poster 
bed, with slender columns, a black old wardrobe, and 
a couple of chairs, one of the queer antiquated little 
dressing-tables, with many drawers, and boxes, and a 
tiny basin, and there was a perfectly new tub, which 
Logan had probably managed to obtain in the course 
of the day. Merton's evening clothes were neatly 
laid out, the shutters were closed, curtains there were 
none ; in fact, he had been in much worse quarters. 

As he dressed he mused. ' Cursed spite,' thought 
he, ' that ever I was born to be an amateur detective 1 
And cursed be my confounded thirst for general in* 
formation ! Why did I ever know what Kurdaiicka 
and Interlinia mean? If I turn out to be right, oh, 
shade of Sherlock Holmes, what a pretty kettle of 
fish there will be ! Suppose I drop the whole affair ! 



ADVENTURE OF THE MISERLY MARQUIS 271 

But I Ve been ass enough to let Logan know that I 
have an idea. Well, we shall see how matters shape 
themselves. Sufficient for the day is the evil thereof.' 

Merton descended the turnpike stair, holding on 
to the rope provided for that purpose in old Scotch 
houses. He found Logan standing by the fire in the 
hall. They were waited on by the old man, Bower. 
By tacit consent they spoke, while he was present, 
of anything but the subject that occupied their minds. 
They had quite an edible dinner — cock-a-leekie, 
brandered haddocks, and a pair of roasted fowls, 
with a mysterious sweet which was called a ' Hattit 
Kit.' 

' It is an historical dish in this house/ said Logan. 
* A favourite with our ancestor, the conspirator.' 

The wine was old and good, having been laid down 
before the time of the late marquis. 

' In the circumstances, Logan,' said Merton, when 
the old serving man was gone, ' you have done me 
very well.' 

'Thanks to Mrs. Bower, our butler's wife,' said 
Logan. 'She is a truly remarkable woman. She 
and her husband, they are cousins, are members of 
an ancient family, our hereditary retainers. One of 
them. Laird Bower, was our old conspirator's go-be- 
tween in the plot to kidnap the king, of which you 
have heard so much. Though he was an aged and 
ignorant man, he kept the secret so well that our 
ancestor was never even suspected, till his letters 
came to light after his death, and after Laird Bower's 
death too, luckily for both of them. So you see we 
can depend on it that this pair of domestics, and their 



3 72 THE DISENTANGLERS 

family, were not concerned in this new abomination ; 
so far, the robbery was not from within.* 

' I am glad to hear that/ said Merton. ' I had 
invented a theory, too stupid to repeat, and entirely 
demolished by the footmarks in the snow, a theory 
which hypothetically implicated your old housekeeper* 
To be sure it did not throw any doubt on her loyalty 
to the house, quite the reverse.' 

* What was your theory?' 

' Oh, too silly for words ; that the marquis had been 
only in a trance, had come to himself when alone 
with the old lady, who, the doctor said, was watching 
in the room, and had stolen away, to see how you 
would conduct yourself. Childish hypothesis ! The 
obvious one, body-snatching, is correct. This is very 
good port.' 

* If things had been as you thought possible, Jean 
Bower was not the woman to balk the marquis,' said 
Logan. ' But you must see her and hear her tell her 
own story.' 

* Gladly,' said Merton, * but first tell me yours.' 
'When I arrived I found the poor old gentle- 
man unconscious. Dr. Douglas was in attendance. 
About noon he pronounced life extinct Mrs. Bower 
watched, or " waked " the corpse. I left her with it 
about midnight, as I told you; about four in the 
morning she aroused me with the news that the body 
had vanished. What I did after that you know. 
Now you had better hear the story from herself ' 

Logan rang a handbell, there were no other bells 
in the keep, and asked the old serving-man, when he 
came, to send in Mrs. Bower. 



ADVENTURE OF THE MISERLY MARQUIS 273 

She entered, a very aged woman, dressed in deep 
mourning. She was tall, her hair of an absolutely 
pure white, her aquiline face was drawn, her cheeks 
hollow, her mouth almost toothless. She made a deep 
courtesy, repeating it when Logan introduced 'my 
friend, Mr. Merton.' 

' Mrs. Bower,' Logan said, * Mr. Merton is my old- 
est friend, and the marquis saw him in London, and 
consulted him on private business a few days ago. 
He wishes to hear you tell what you saw the night 
before last.' 

' Maybe, as the gentleman is English, he '11 hardly 
understand me, my lord. I have a landward tongue,' 
said Mrs. Bower. 

' I can interpret if Mr. Merton is puzzled, Mrs. 
Bower, but I think he will understand better if we go 
to the laird's chamber.' 

Logan took two lighted candles, handing two to 
Merton, and the old woman led them upstairs to a 
room which occupied the whole front of the ancient 
• peel,' or square tower, round which the rest of the 
house was built. The room was nearly bare of furni- 
ture, except for an old chair or two, a bureau, and a 
great old bed of state, facing the narrow deep 
window, and standing on a kind of dais, or platform 
of three steps. The heavy old green curtains were 
drawn all round it Mrs. Bower opened them at the 
front and sides. At the back against the wall the 
curtains, embroidered with the arms of Restalrig, re- 
mained closed. 

' I sat here all the night,' said Mrs. Bower, ' watch- 
ing the corp that my hands had streikit. The candles 

18 



274 THE DISENTANGLERS 

were burning a' about him, the saut lay on his breast, 
only aefold o' linen covered him. My back was to 
the window, my face to his feet. I was crooning the 
auld dirgie; if it does nae guid, it does nae harm.' 
She recited in a monotone : 

' When thou frae here away art past — 

Every nicht and all — 
To Whinny-muir thou comest at last, 

And Christ receive thy saul. 

' If ever thou gavest hosen and shoon — 

Every nicht and all — 
Sit thee down and put them on, 

And Christ receive thy saul. 

*Alas, he never gave nane, puir man,' said the 
woman with a sob. 

At this moment the door of the chamber slowly 
opened. The woman turned and gazed at it, frown- 
ing, her lips wide apart. 

Logan went to the door, looked into the passage* 
closed the door and locked it; the key had to be 
turned twice, in the old fashion, and worked with a 
creaking jar. 

' I had crooned thae last words, 

And Christ receive thy saul, 

when the door opened, as ye saw it did the now* It 
is weel kenned that a corp canna lie still in a room 
with the door hafflins open. I rose to lock it, the 
catch is crazy. I was backing to the door, with my 
face to the feet o' the corp. I saw them move back- 
wards, slow they moved, and my heart stood still in 
my breist. Then I saw' — here she stepped to the 



ADVENTURE OF THE MISERLY MARQUIS 275 

head of the bed and drew apart the curtains, which 
opened in the middle — ' I saw the curtain was open, 
and naething but blackness ahint it Ye see, my 
Lord, ahint the bed-heid is the entrance o' the auld 
secret passage. The stanes hae lang syne fallen in, 
and closed it, but my Lord never would have the 
hole wa'ed up. " There 's nae draught, Jean, or nane 
to mention, and I never was wastefu' in needless re- 
pairs," he aye said. Weel, when I looked that way, 
his face, down to the chafts, was within the blackness, 
and aye draw, drawing further ben. Then, I shame to 
say it, a sair dwawm cam ower me, I gae a bit chokit 
cry, and I kenned nae mair till I cam to mysel, a' the 
candles were out, and the chamber was mirk and 
lown. I heard the skirl o' a passing train, and I crap 
to the bed, and the skirl kind o' reminded me o' liv- 
ing folk, and I felt a' ower the bed wi' my hands. 
There was nae corp. Ye ken that the Enemy has 
power, when a corp lies in a room, and the door is 
hafflins closed. Whiles they sit up, and grin and 
yammer. I hae kenned that. Weel, how long I had 
lain in the dwawm I canna say. The train that 
skirled maun hae been a coal train that rins by about 
half-past three in the morning. There was a styme o' 
licht that streeled in at the open door, frae a candle 
your lordship set on a table in the lobby ; the auld 
lord would hae nae lichts in the house after the ten 
hours. Sae I got to the door, and grippit to the 
candle, and flew off to your lordship's room, and the 
rest ye ken.' 

' Thank you, very much, Mrs. Bower,' said Logan. 
*You quite understand, Merton, don't you?' 



276 THE DISENTANGLERS 

' I thoroughly understand your story, Mrs. Bower/ 
said Merton. 

' We need not keep you any longer, Mrs. Bower/ 
said Logan. ' Nobody need sit up for us ; you must 
be terribly fatigued.' 

'You wunna forget to rake out the ha' fire, my 
lord ? ' said the old lady, ' I wush your Lordship a 
sound sleep, and you, sir,' so she curtsied and went, 
Logan unlocking the door. 

' And I was in London this morning ! ' said Merton, 
drawing a long breath. 

* You 're over Tweed, now, old man,' answered 
Logan, with patriotic satisfaction. 

' Don't go yet,' said Merton. ' You examined the 
carpet of the room; no traces there of these odd 
muffled foot-coverings you found in the snow?' 

' Not a trace of any kind. The salt was spilt, some 
of it lay on the floor. The plate was not broken.' 

' If they came in, it would be barefoot,' said 
Merton. 

' Of course the police left traces of official boots,* 
said Logan. ' Where are they now — the policemen, I 
mean? ' 

* Two are to sleep in the kitchen.' 
*They found out nothing? ' 

' Of course not' 

'Let me look at the hole in the wall.' Merton 
climbed on to the bed and entered the hole. It was 
about six feet long by four wide. Stones had fallen 
in, at the back, and had closed the passage in a rough 
way, indeed what extent of the floor of the passage 
existed was huddled with stones. Merton examined 
the sides of the passage, which were mere nibble. 



ADVENTURE OF THE MISERLY MARQUIS 277 

' Have you looked at the floor beneath those fallen 
stones?' Merton asked. 

' No, by Jove, I never thought of that,' said Logan. 

' How could they have been stirred without the old 
woman hearing the noise ? ' 

' How do you know they were there before the 
marquis's death ? ' asked Merton, adding, ' this hole 
was not swept and dusted regularly. Either the 
entrance is beneath me, or — " the Enemy had power " 
— as Mrs. Bower says.' 

' You must be right,' said Logan. ' I '11 have the 
stones removed to-morrow. The thing is clear. The 
passage leads to somewhere outside of the house. 
There 's an abandoned coal mine hard by, on the east. 
Nothing can be simpler.' 

* When once you see it,' said Merton. 

' Come and have a whisky and soda,' said Logan. 



///. A Romance of Bradshaw 

Merton slept very well in the turret room. He 
was aroused early by noises which he interpreted as 
caused by the arrival of the London detectives. But 
he only turned round, like the sluggard, and slumbered 
till Logan aroused him at eight o'clock. He de- 
scended about a quarter to nine, breakfast was at 
nine, and he found Logan looking much disturbed. 

' They don't waste time,' said Logan, handing to 
Merton a letter in an opened envelope. Logan's 
hand trembled. 

'Typewritten address, London postmark,' said 



i7* THE DISENTANGLERS 

Merton. ' To Robert Logan, Esq., at Kirkburn Keep, 
Drem, Scotland.' 

Merton read the letter aloud ; there was no date of 
place, but there were the words : 

* March 6, 2.45 P.M. 

* Sir, — Perhaps I ought to say my Lord * 

' What a fool the fellow is/ said Merton. 

•Why?' 

' Shows he is an educated man/ 

'You may obtain news as to the mortal remains of your 
kinsman, the late Marquis of Restalrig, and as to his Will, 
by walking in the Burlington Arcade on March 11, between 
the hours of three and half-past three p.m. You must be 
attired in full mourning costume, carrying a glove in your 
left hand, and a black cane, with a silver top, in your right. 
A lady will drop her purse beside you. You will accost 
her.' 

Here the letter, which was typewritten, ended. 

* You won't?' said Merton. ' Never meet a black- 
mailer half way.' 

' I would n't,' said Logan. ' But look here I ' 
He gave Merton another letter, in outward respect 
exactly similar to the first, except that the figure 2 
was typewritten in the left corner. The letter ran 
thus: 

' March 6, 4.25 p.m. 

* Sot, — I regret to have to trouble you with a second 
communication, but my former letter was posted before a 



ADVENTURE OF THE MISERLY MARQUIS 279 

change occurred in the circumstances. You will be pleased 
to hear that I have no longer the affliction of speaking of 
your noble kinsman as '' the late Marquis of Restalrig." ' 

* Oh my prophetic soul ! ' said Merton, * I guessed at 
first that he was not dead after all ! Only catalepsy.' 
He went on reading: 'His Lordship recovered con- 
sciousness in circumstances which I shall not pain 
you by describing. He is now doing as well as can 
be expected, and may have several years of useful 
life before him. I need not point out to you that the 
conditions of the negotiation are now greatly altered. 
On the one hand, my partners and myself may seem 
to occupy the position of players who work a double 
ruff at whist. We are open to the marquis's offers 
for release, and to yours for his eternal absence from 
the scene of life and enjoyment. But it is by no 
means impossible that you may have scruples about 
outbidding your kinsman, especially as, if you did, 
you would, by the very fact, become subject to per- 
petual '' black-mailing " at our hands. I speak 
plainly, as one man of the world to another. It is 
also a drawback to our position that you could attain 
your ends without blame or scandal (your ends being, 
of course, if the law so determines, immediate succes- 
sion to the property of the marquis), by merely push- 
ing us, with the aid of the police, to a fatal extreme. 
We are, therefore reluctantly obliged to conclude that 
we cannot put the marquis's life up to auction between 
you and him, as my partners, in the first flush of 
triumph, had conceived. But any movement on 
your side against us will be met in such a way that 
the consequences, both to yourself and your kinsman. 



38o THE DISENTANGLERS 

will prove to the last degree prejudicial. For the 
rest, the arrangements specified in my earlier note of 
this instant (dated 2.45 P. M.) remain in force.' 

Merton returned the letter to Logan. Their faces 
were almost equally blank. 

' Let me think 1 ' said Merton. He turned, and 
walked to the window. Logan re-read the letters 
and waited. Presently Merton came back to the 
fireside. ' You see, after all, this resolves itself into 
the ordinary dilemma of brigandage. We do not 
want to pay ransom, enormous ransom probably, if 
we can rescue the marquis, and destroy the gang. 
But the marquis himself * 

' Oh, he would never offer terms that they would 
accept,' said Logan, with conviction. ' But I would 
stick at no ransom, of course.' 

'But suppose that I see a way of defeating the 
scoundrels, would you let me risk it?' 

' If you neither imperil yourself nor him too 
much.' 

' Never mind me, I like it. And, as for him, they 
will be very loth to destroy their winning card.' 

' You '11 be cautious ? ' 

' Naturally, but, as this place and the stations are 
sure to be watched, as the trains are slow, local, and 
inconvenient, and as, thanks to the economy of the 
marquis, you have no horses, it will be horribly diffi- 
cult for me to leave the house and get to London and 
to work without their spotting me. It is absolutely 
essential to my scheme that I should not be known 
to be in town, and that I should be supposed to be 
here. I '11 think it out In the meantime we must 



ADVENTURE OF THE MISERLY MARQUIS 281 

do what we can to throw dust in the eyes of the 
enemy. Wire an identical advertisement to all the 
London papers ; I *11 write it.' 

Merton went to a table on which lay some writing 
materials, and wrote : — 

- BURLINGTON ARCADE. SILVER-TOPPED EBONY 
STICK. Any offer made by the other party will be doubled 
on receipt of that consignment uninjured. Will meet the 
lady. Traps shall be kept here till after the date you men- 
tion. CHURCH BROOK.' 

'Now/ said Merton, * he will see that Church Brook 
is Kirkburn, and that you will be liberal. And he 
will understand that the detectives are not to return 
to London. You did not show them the letters? ' 

' Of course not till you saw them, and I won't.' 

' And, if nothing can be done before the eleventh, 
why you must promenade in the Burlington Arcade.' 

'You see one weak point in your offers, don't 
you?' 

•Which?' 

' Why, suppose they do release the marquis, how 
am I to get Uie money to pay double his offer? He 
won't stump up and recoup me.' 

Merton laughed. ' We must risk it,' he said. 
'And, in the changed circumstances, the tin might 
be raised on a post-obit. But he won't bid high ; you 
may double safely enough.' 

On considering these ideas Logan looked relieved. 
^ Now,' he asked, ' about your plan ; is it following the 
emu's feather?' 

Merton nodded. 'But I must do it alone. The 



282 THE DISENTANGLERS 

detectives must stay here. Now if I leave, dressed 
as I am, by the 10.49, I'U be tracked all the way. 
Is there anybody in the country whom you can 
absolutely trust? ' 

* Yes, there 's Bower, the gardener, the son of these 
two feudal survivals, and there is his son.' 

* What is young Bower? ' 

'A miner in the collieries; the mine is near the 
house.' 
' Is he about my size? Have you seen him? ' 
' I saw him last night ; he was one of the watchers.' 

* Is he near my size ? ' 

' A trifle broader, otherwise near enough.' 

' What luck ! ' said Merton, adding, ' well, I can't 
start by the 1049. I'm ill. I 'm in bed. Order my 
breakfast in bed, send Mrs. Bower, and come up with 
her yourself.' 

Merton rushed up the turnpike stair ; in two minutes 
he was undressed, and between the sheets. There he 
lay, reading Bradshaw, pages 670, 671. 

Presently there was a knock at the door, and Logan 
entered, followed by Mrs. Bower with the breakfast 
tray. 

Merton addressed her at once. 

'Mrs. Bower, we know that we can trust you 
absolutely.' 

' To the death, sir — me and mine.' 

' Well, I am not ill, but people must think I am ill. 
Is your grandson on the night shift or the day shift? * 

* Laird is on the day shift, sir.' 

' When does he leave his work?' 
' About six, sir.' 



ADVENTURE OF THE MISERLY MARQUIS 283 



' That is good. As soon as he appears 



' I *11 wait for him at the pit's mouth, sir.* 
' Thank you. You will take him to his house; he 
lives with your son? ' 

* Yes, sir, with his father.' 

'Make him change his working clothes — but he 
need not wash his face much — and bring him here. 
Mr. Logan, I mean Lord Fastcastle, will want him. 
Now, Mrs. Bower — you see I trust you absolutely — 
what he is wanted for is tkis. I shall dress in your 
grandson's clothes, I shall blacken my hands and face 
slightly, and I must get to Drem. Have I time to 
reach the station by ten minutes past seven ? ' 

' By fast walking, sir.' 

' Mr. Logan and your grandson — your grandson 
in my clothes — will walk later to your son's house, as 
they find a chance, unobserved, say about eleven 
at night They will stay there for some time. Then 
they will be joined by some of the police, who will 
accompany Mr. Logan home again. Your grandson 
will go to his work as usual in the morning. That is 
all. You quite understand? You have nothing to 
do but to bring your grandson here, dressed as I said, 
as soon as he leaves his work. Oh, wait a moment I 
Is your grandson a teetotaller?' 

' He 's like the other lads, sir.' 

* All the better. Does he smoke ? ' 

* Yes, sir.' 

' Then pray bring me a pipe of his and some of his 
tobacco. And, ah yes, does he possess such a thing 
as an old great-coat?' 

' His auld ane 's sair worn, sir.' 



284 THE DISENTANGLERS 

' Never mind, he had better walk up in it. He has 
a better one?' 

* Yes, sir.' 

' I think that is all/ said Merton. ' You under- 
stand, Mrs. Bower, that I am going away dressed as 
your grandson, while your grandson, dressed as my- 
self, returns to his house to-night, and to work to- 
morrow. But it is not to be known that I have gone 
away. I am to be supposed ill in bed here for a day 
or two. ' You will bring my meals into the room at 
the usual hours, and Logan — of course you can trust 
Dr. Douglas?' 

* I do.' 

' Then he had better be summoned to my sick bed 
here to-morrow. I may be so ill that he will have to 
call twice. That will keep up the belief that I am 
here.' 

' Good idea,' said Logan, as the old woman left the 
room. * What had I better do now? ' 

* Oh, send your telegrams — the advertisements — 
to the London papers. They can go by the trap you 
ordered for me, that I am too ill to go in. Then you 
will have to interview the detectives, take them into 
the laird's chamber, and, if they start my theory 
about the secret entrance being under the fallen 
stones, let them work away at removing them. If 
they don't start it, put them up to it; anything to 
keep them employed and prevent them from asking 
questions in the villages.' 

' But, Merton, I understand your leaving in disguise ; 
still, why go first to Edinburgh? ' 

' The trains from your station to town do not fit. 



ADVENTURE OF THE MISERLY MARQUIS 285 

You can look/ And Merton threw Bradshaw to 
Logan, who caught it neatly. 

When he had satisfied himself, Logan said, ' The 
shops will be closed in Edinburgh, it will be after 
eight when you arrive. How will you manage about 
getting into decent clothes?' 

' I have my idea ; but, as soon as you can get rid 
of the detectives, come back here ; I want you to 
coach me in broad Scots words and pronunciation. 
I shall concoct imaginary dialogues. I say, this is 
great fun.* 

'Dod, man, aw'm the lad that'll lairn ye the pro- 
noonciation,' said Logan, and he was going. 

' Wait,' said Merton, ' sign me a paper giving me 
leave to treat about the ransom. And promise that, 
if I don't reappear by the eleventh, you won't nego- 
tiate at all.' 

' Not likely I will,' said Logan. 

Merton lay in bed inventing imaginary dialogues 
to be rendered into Scots as occasion served. Pres- 
ently Logan brought him a little book named Mansie 
Waugh. 

'That is our lingo here,' he said; and Merton 
studied the work carefully, marking some phrases 
with a pencil. 

In about an hour Logan reported that the detec- 
tives were at work in the secret passage. The lesson 
in the Scots of the Lothians began, accompanied by 
sounds of muffled laughter. Not for two or three 
centuries can the turret chamber at Kirkburn have 
heard so much merriment. 

The afternoon passed in this course of instruction. 






286 THE DISENTANGLERS 

Merton was a fairly good mimic, and Logan felt at 
last that he could not readily be detected for an 
Englishman. Six o'clock had scarcely struck when 
Mrs. Bower's grandson was ushered into the bedroom. 
The exchange of clothes took place, Merton dressing 
as the young Bower undressed. The detectives, who 
had found nothing, were being entertained by Mrs. 
Bower at dinner. 

' I know how the trap in the secret passage is 
worked,' said Merton, 'but you keep them hunting 
for it' 

Had the worthy detectives been within earshot the 
yells of laughter echoing in the turret as the men 
dressed must have suggested strange theories to their 
imaginations. 

' Larks 1 ' said Merton, as he blackened his face 
with coal dust. 

Dismissing young Bower, who was told to wait in 
the hall, Merton made his final arrangements. 

'You will communicate with me under cover to 
Trevor,' he said. He took a curious mediaeval ring 
that he always wore from his finger, and tied it to a 
piece of string, which he hung round his neck, tuck- 
ing all under his shirt. Then he arranged his thick 
comforter so as to hide the back of his head and neck 
(he had bitten his nails and blackened them with 
coal). 

' Logan, I only want a bottle of whisky, the cork 
drawn and loose in the bottle, and a few dirty Scotch 
one pound notes ; and, oh ! has Mrs. Bower a pack 
of cards? ' 

Having been supplied with these properties, and 



ADVENTURE OF THE MISERLY MARQUIS 287 

said farewell to Logan, Merton stole downstairs, 
walked round the house, entered the kitchen by the 
back door, and said to Mrs. Bower, ' Grannie, I maun 
be ganging.' 

' My grandson, gentlemen,' said Mrs. Bower to the 
detectives. Then to her grandson, she remarked, 
' Hae, there 's a jeely piece for you ' ; and Merton, 
munching a round of bread covered with jam, walked 
down the steep avenue. He knew the house he was 
to enter, the gardener's lodge, and also that he was to 
approach it by the back way, and go in at the back 
door. The inmates expected him and understood the 
scheme ; presently he went out by the door into the 
village street, still munching at his round of bread. 

To such lads and lassies as hailed him in the wan- 
ing light he replied gruffly, explaining that he had ' a 
sair hoast,' that is, a bad cough, from which he had 
observed that young Bower was suffering. He was 
soon outside of the village, and walking at top speed 
towards the station. Several times he paused, in 
shadowy corners of the hedges, and listened. There 
was no sound of pursuing feet. He was not being 
followed, but, of course, he might be dogged at the 
station. The enemy would have their spies there: 
if they had them in the village his disguise had de- 
ceived them. He ran, whenever no passer-by was in 
sight; through the villages he walked, whistling 
'WuU ye no come back again!' He reached the 
station with three minutes to spare, took a third-class 
ticket, and went on to the platform. Several people 
were waiting, among them four or five rough-looking 
miners, probably spies. He strolled towards the end 



288 THE DISENTANGLERS 

of the platform, and when the train entered, leaped in* 
to a third-class carriage which was nearly full. Turn* 
ing at the door, he saw the rough customers making 
for the same carriage. 'Come on/ cried Merton* 
with a slight touch of intoxication in his voice; 
' come on billies, a' freens here ! ' and he cast a glance 
of affection behind him at the other occupants of the 
carriage. The roughs pressed in. 

' I won't have it,' cried a testy old gentleman, who 
was economically travelling by third-class, ' there are 
only three seats vacant. The rest of the train is 
nearly empty. Hi, guard ! station-master, hi ! ' 

' K freens here,* repeated Merton stolidly, taking 
his whisky bottle from his great-coat pocket. Two 
of the roughs had entered, but the guard persuaded 
the other two that they must bestow themselves else- 
where. The old gentleman glared at Merton, who 
was standing up, the cork of the bottle between his 
teeth, as the train began to move. He staggered and 
fell back into his seat 

' We are na fou, we 're no that fou,' 

Merton chanted, directing his speech to the old 
gentleman, 

* But just a wee drap in oor 'eel ' 

' The curse of Scotland,' muttered the old gentle- 
man, whether with reference to alcohol or to Robert 
Burns, is uncertain. 

' The Curse o' Scotland,' said Merton, ' that 's the 
nine o' diamonds. I hae the cairts on me, maybe 
ye'd take a hand, sir, at Beggar ma Neebouty or 



ADVENTURE OF THE MISERLY MARQUIS 389 

Catch the Ten? Ye needna be feared, a can pay gin 
I lose/ He dragged out his cards, and a handful of 
silver. 

The rough customers between whom Merton was 
sitting began to laugh hoarsely. The old gentleman 
frowned. 

* I shall change my carriage at the next station/ he 
said, ' and I shall report you for gambling/ 

' A' freens ! ' said Merton, as if horrified by the 
austere reception of his cordial advances. ' Wha 's 
gaumlin' ? We mauna play, billies, till he 's gane. 
An unco pernicketty auld carl, thon ane,' he re- 
marked, sotto voce. ' But there 's naething in the 
Company's by-laws again refraishments,' Merton 
added. He uncorked his bottle, made a pretence of 
sucking at it, and passed it to his neighbours, the 
rough customers. They imbibed with freedom. 

The carriage was very dark, the lamp * moved like 
a moon in a wane,' as Merton might have quoted in 
happier circumstances. The rough customers glared 
at him, but his cap had a peak, and he wore his com- 
forter high. 

' Man, ye 're the kind o' lad I like,' said one of the 
rough customers. 

' A' freens ! ' said Merton, again applying himself 
to the bottle, and passing it. ' Ony ither gentleman 
tak' a sook?' asked Merton, including all the passen- 
gers in his hospitable glance. ' Nane o' ye dry? 

< Oh I fill yer ain glass, 
And let the jug pass, 
Hoo d 'ye ken but yer neighbour 's dry? ' 

Merton carolled. 



290 THE DISENTANGLERS 

' Thon *s no a Scotch lilt/ remarked one of the 
roughs. 

' A ken it 's Irish/ said Merton. ' But, billie, the 
whusky 's Scotch ! ' 

The train slowed and the old gentleman got out. 
From the platform he stormed at Merton. 

' Ye 're no an awakened character, ma freend/ an* 
swered Merton. 'Gude nicht to ye! Gie ma love 
to the gude wife and the weans ! ' 

The train pursued her course. 

' Aw 'm saying, billie, aw 'm saying/ remarked one 
of the roughs, thrusting his dirty beard into Merton's 
face. 

* Weel, be saying,' said Merton. 

' You 're no Lairdie Bower, ye ken, ye haena the 
neb o' him/ 

'And wha the deil said a was Lairdie Bower? 
Aw 'm a Lanerick man. Lairdie 's at hame wi' a sair 
hoast,' answered Merton. 

' But ye 're wearing Lairdie Bower's auld big coat.' 

'And what for no? Lairdie has anither coat, a 
brawer yin, and he lent me the auld yin because the 
nichts is cauld, and I hae a hoast ma'sel ! Div^^ ken 
Lairdie Bower? I 've been wi' his auld faither and the 
lasses half the day, but speakin 's awfu' dry work.' 

Here Merton repeated the bottle trick, and showed 
symptoms of going to sleep, his head rolling on to the 
shoulder of the rough. 

' Haud up, man ! ' said the rough, withdrawing the 
support. 

' A' freens here,' remarked Merton, drawing a dirty 
clay pipe from his pocket. ' Hae ye a spunk ? ' 



ADVENTURE OF THE MISERLY MARQUIS 291 

The rough provided him with a match, and he 
killed some time, while Preston Pans was passed, in 
filling and lighting his pipe. 

'Ye 're a Lanerick man?' asked the inquiring 
rough. 

' Ay, a Hamilton frae Moss End. But I 'm taking 
the play. Ma auld tittie has dee'd and left me some 
siller,' Merton dragged a handful of dirty notes out 
of his trousers pocket. ' I 've been to see the auld 
Bowers, but Lairdie was on the shift' 

* And ye 're ganging to Embro ? ' 

< When we cam* into Embro Toon 
We were a seemly sicht to see ; 
Ma luve was in the 

I dinna mind what ma luve was in — 

* And I ma*sel in cramoisie,* 

sang Merton, who had the greatest fear of being asked 
local questions about Moss End and Motherwell. ' I 
dinna ken what cramoisie is, ma'sel',' he added. ' Hae 
a drink ! ' 

* Man, ye 're a bonny singer,' said the rough, who, 
hitherto, had taken no hand in the conversation. 

' Ma faither was a precentor,' said Merton, and so, 
in fact, Mr. Merton pire had, for a short time, been — 
of Salisbury Cathedral. 

They were approaching Portobello, where Merton 
rushed to the window, thrust half of his body out, 
and indulged in the raucous and meaningless yells of 
the festive artisan. Thus he tided over a rather pro- 
longed wait, but, when the train moved on, the inquir- 



292 THE DISENTANGLERS 

ing rough returned to the charge. He was suspicious, 
and also was drunk, and obstinate with all the brain* 
less obstinacy of intoxication. 

' Aw 'm sayin'/ he remarked to Merton, * you 're no 
Lairdie Bower.' 

' Hear till the man ! Aw 'm Tammy Hamilton, o' 

Moss End in Lanerick. Aw'm ganging to see ma 

Jean. 

* For day or night 
Ma fancy's flight 
Is ever wi' ma Jean — 
Ma bonny, bonny, flat-footed Jean,' 

sang Merton, gliding from the strains of Robert Bums 
into those of Mr. Boothby. * Jean 's a Lanerick wum- 
man,' he added, 'she's in service in the Pleasance. 
Aw 'm ganging to my Jo. Ye '11 a' hae Jos, billies? ' 

'Aw'm sayin',' the intoxicated rough persisted, 
' ye 're no a Lanerick man. Ye 're the English 
gentleman birkie that cam' to Kirkburn yestreen. 
Or else ye 're ane o' the polis' (police), 

' Me ane o' the polis ! Aw 'm askin' the company, 
div a look like a polisman? Div a look like an Eng- 
lish birkie, or ane o' the gentry?' 

The other passengers, decent people, thus appealed 
to, murmured negatives, and shook their heads. Mer- 
ton certainly did not resemble a policeman, an Eng- 
lishman, or a gentleman. 

' Ye see naebody Hppens to ye,' Merton went on. 
' Man, if we were na a' freens, a wad gie ye a jaud 
atween yer twa een 1 But ye 've been drinking. Tak 
anither sook I ' 

The rough did not reject the conciliatory offer. 



ADVENTURE OF THE MISERLY MARQUIS 293 

' The whiskey 's low/ said Merton, holding up the 
bottle to the light, 'but there's mair at Embro' 
station.' 

They were now drawing up at the station. Merton 
floundered out, threw his arms round the necks of 
each of the roughs, yelled to their companions in the 
next carriage to follow, and staggered into the third- 
class refreshment room. Here he leaned against the 
counter and feebly ogled the attendant nymph. 

' Ma lonny bassie, a mean ma bonny lassie,' he 
said, ' gie 's five gills, five o' the Auld Kirk ' (whisky). 

' Hoots man ! ' he heard one of the roughs remark 
to another. ' This falla 's no the English birkie. 
English he canna be.' 

' But aiblins he 's ane o' oor ain polis,' said the man 
of suspicions. 

' Nane o' oor polis has the gumption ; and him as 
fou as a fiddler.' 

Merton, waving his glass, swallowed its contents at 
three gulps. He then fell on the floor, scrambled to 
his feet, tumbled out, and dashed his own whisky bot- 
tle through the window of the refreshment room. 

' Me ane o' the polis ! ' he yelled, and was stagger- 
ing towards the exit, when he was collared by two 
policemen, attracted by the noise. He embraced 
one of them, murmuring ' ma bonny Jean I ' and then 
doubled up, his head lolling on his shoulder. His 
legs and arms jerked convulsively, and he had at last 
to be carried off, in the manner known as ' The Frog's 
March,' by four members of the force. The roughs 
followed, like chief mourners, Merton thought, at the 
head of the attendant crowd. 



^94 THE DlSENTANGLERS 

' There 's an end o' your clash about the English 
gentleman/ Merton heard the quieter of his late com- 
panions observe to the obstinate inquirer. ' But he 's 
a bonny singer. And noo, wuU ye tell me hoo we 're 
to win back to Drem the nicht? ' 

'Dod, we'll make a nicht o't/ said the other, as 
Merton was carried into the police-station. 

He permitted himself to be lifted into one of the 
cells, and then remarked, in the most silvery tones : 

'Very many thanks, my good men. I need not 
give you any more trouble, except by asking you, if 
possible, to get me some hot water and soap, and to 
invite the inspector to favour me with his company/ 

The men nearly dropped Merton, but, finding his 
feet, he stood up and smiled blandly. 

* Pray make no apologies,' he said. ' It is rather I 
who ought to apologise.' 

' He 's no drucken, and he 's no Scotch,' remarked 
one of the policemen. 

' But he '11 pass the nicht here, and maybe apolo- 
gise to the Baillie in the morning,' said another. 

' Oh, pardon me, you mistake me/ said Merton. 
' This is not a stupid practical joke. ' 

' It 'is no a very gude ane,' said the policeman. 

Merton took out a handful of gold. ' I wish to pay 
for the broken window at once,' he said. ' It was a 
necessary part of the mise en seine, of the stage eflfect, 
you know. To call your attention.' 

' Ye '11 settle wi' the Baillie in the morning,' said the 
policeman. 

Things were looking untoward. 

' Look here/ said Merton, * I quite understand your 



ADVENTURE OF THE MISERLY MARQUIS 295 

point of view, it does credit to your intelligence. You 
take me for an English tourist, behaving as I have 
done by way of a joke, or for a bet ? ' 
' That 's it, sir,' said the spokesman. 

* Well, it does look like that. But which of you is 
the senior officer here ? ' 

' Me, sir,' said the last speaker. 

* Very well, if you can be so kind as to call the 
officer in charge of the station, or even one of senior 
standing — the higher the better — I can satisfy him 
as to my identity, and as to my reasons for behaving 
as I have done. I assure you that it is a matter of 
the very gravest importance. If the inspector, when 
he has seen me, permits, I have no objections to you, 
or to all of you hearing what I have to say. But you 
will understand that this is a matter for his own discre- 
tion. If I were merely playing the fool, you must see 
that I have nothing to gain by giving additional 
annoyance and offence.' 

* Very well, sir, I will bring the officer in charge,' 
said the policeman. 

'Just tell him about my arrest and so on,' said 
Merton. 

In a few minutes he returned with his superior. 

'Well, my man, what's a' this aboot?' said that 
officer sternly. 

' If you can give me an interview, alone, for five 
minutes, I shall enlighten you,' said Merton. 

The officer was a huge and stalwart man. He 
threw his eye over Merton. * Wait in the yaird,' he 
said to his minions, who retreated rather reluctantly. 
* Weel, speak up,' said the officer. 



296 THE DISENTANGLERS 

' It is the body snatching case at Kirkburn/ said 
Merton. 

* Do ye mean that ye 're an English detective? ' 

' No, merely a friend of Mr. Logan's who left 
Kirkburn this evening. I have business to do for 
him in London in connection with the case — business 
that nobody can do but myself — and the house was 
watched. I escaped in the disguise which you see 
me wearing, and had to throw off a gang of ruffians 
that accompanied me in the train by pretending to 
be drunk. I could only shake them off and destroy 
the suspicions which they expressed by getting 
arrested.' 

' It 's a queer story/ said the policeman. 

' It IX a queer story, but, speaking without knowl- 
edge, I think your best plan is to summon the chief 
of your detective department, I need his assistance. 
And I can prove my identity to him — to you^ if you 
like, but you know best what is official etiquette.' 

* I '11 telephone for him, sir.' 

'You are very obliging. All this is confidential, 
you know. Expense is no object to Mr. Logan, and 
he will not be ungrateful if strict secrecy is preserved. 
But, of all things, I want a wash.' 

'AH right, sir,' said the policeman, and in a few 
minutes Merton's head, hands, and neck, were restored 
to their pristine propriety. 

' No more kailyard talk for me,' he thought, with 
satisfaction. 

The head of the detective department arrived in no 
long time. He was in evening dress. Merton rose 
and bowed. 



ADVENTURE OF THE MISERLY MARQUIS 297 

' What 's your story, sir? ' the chief asked ; ' it has 
brought me from a dinner party at my own house.' 

' I deeply regret it,' said Merton, * though, for my 
purpose, it is the merest providence.' 

'What do you mean, sir? ' 

' Your subordinate has doubtless told you all that 
I told him?' 

The chief nodded. 

' Do you — I mean as an official — believe me? ' 

'I would be glad of proof of your personal 
identity.' 

* That is easily given. You may know Mr. 
Lumley, the Professor of Toxicology in the Univer- 
sity here ? ' 

' I have met him often on matters of our business.' 

' He is an old college friend of mine, and can 
remove any doubts you may entertain. His wife is a 
tall woman luckily,' added Merton to himself, much 
to the chief's bewilderment. 

' Mr. Lumley's word would quite satisfy me»' said 
the chief. 

'Very well, pray lend me your attention. This 
affair ' 

' The body snatching at Kirkbum ? ' asked the 
chief. 

' Exactly,' said Merton. ' This affair is very well 
organised. Your house is probably being observed. 
Now what I propose is this. I can go nowhere 
dressed as I am. You will, if you please, first send a 
constable, in uniform, to your house with orders to 
wait till you return. Next, I shall dress, by your 
permission, in any spare uniform you may have here. 



298 THE DISENTANGLERS 

and in that costume I shall leave this office and 
accompany you to your house in a closed cab. You 
will enter it, bring out a hat and cloak, come into the 
cab, and I shall put them on, leaving my policeman's 
helmet in the cab, which will wait Then, minutes 
later, the constable will come out, take the cab, 
and drive to any police office you please. Once 
within your house, I shall exchange my uniform for 
any old evening suit you may be able to lend me, 
and, when your guests have departed, you and I will 
drive together to Professor Lumley's, where he will 
identify me. After that, my course is perfectly clear, 
and I need give you no further trouble.' 

' It is too complicated, sir/ said the chief, smiling. 
' I don't know your name ? ' 

' Merton,' said our hero, ' and yours? ' 

' Macnab. I can lend you a plain suit of morning 
clothes from here, and we don't want the stratagem 
of the constable. You don't even need the extra 
trouble of putting on evening dress in my house.' 

* How very fortunate,' said Merton, and in a quarter 
of an hour he was attired as a simple citizen, and was 
driving to the house of Mr. Macnab. Here he was 
merely introduced to the guests — it was a men*s 
party — as a gentleman from England on business. 
The guests had too much tact to tarry long, and by 
eleven o'clock the chief and Merton were ringing at 
the door bell of Professor Lumley. The servant knew 
both of them, and ushered them into the professor's 
study. He was reading examination papers. Mrs. 
Lumley had not returned from a party. Lumley 
greeted Merton warmly. 



ADVENTURE OF THE MISERLY MARQUIS 299 

' I am passing through Edinburgh, and thought I 
might find you at home/ Merton said. 

' Mr. Macnab/ said Lumley, shaking hands with 
the chief, 'you have not taken my friend into 
custody? ' 

' No, professor ; Mr. Merton will tell you that he is 
released, and I '11 be going home.' 

' You won't stop and smoke?' 

* No, I should be de trop,' answered the chief; * good 
night, professor ; good night, Mr. Merton.' 

' But the broken window? ' 

' Oh, we '11 settle that, and let you have the 
bill.' 

Merton gave his club address, and the chief shook 
hands and departed. 

* Now, what have you been doing, Merton ? ' asked 
Lumley. 

Merton briefly explained the whole set of circum- 
stances, and added, ' Now, Lumley, you are my sole 
hope. You can give me a bed to-night?' 

* With all the pleasure in the world.' 

' And lend me a set of Mrs. Lumley's raiment and 
a lady's portmanteau ? ' 

'Are you quite mad ? ' 

' No, but I must get to London undiscovered, and, 
for certain reasons, with which I need not trouble 
you, that is absolutely the only possible way. You 
remember, at Oxford, I made up fairly well for female 
parts.' 

' Is there absolutely no other way ? ' 

' None, I have tried every conceivable plan, men- 
tally. Mourning is best, and a veil.' 



300 THE DISENTANGLERS 

At this moment Mrs. Lumley's cab was heard, 
returning from her party. 

' Run down and break it to Mrs. Lumley/ said 
Merton. ' Luckily we have often acted together.' 

' Luckily you are a favourite of hers/ said Lumley. 

In ten minutes the pair entered the study. Mrs. 
Lumley, a tall lady» as Merton had said, came in, 
laughing and blushing. 

' I shall drive with you myself to the train. My 
maid must be in the secret/ she said. 

' She is an old acquaintance of mine/ said Merton. 
'But I think you had better not come with me to the 
station. Nobody is likely to see me, leaving your 
house about nine, with my veil down. But, if any 
one does see me, he must take me for you.* 

' Oh, it is I who am running up to town incognita? ' 

* For a day or two — you will lend me a port- 
manteau to give local colour?' 

* With pleasure,' said Mrs. Lumley. 

* And Lumley will telegraph to Trevor to meet you 
at King's Cross, with his brougham, at 6.15 P. M.?' 

This also was agreed to, and so ended this romance 
of Bradshaw. 

IV. Greek meets Greek 

At about twenty-five minutes to seven, on March 
7, the express entered King's Cross. A lady of 
fashionable appearance, with her veil down, gazed 
anxiously out of the window of a reserved carriage. 
She presently detected the person for whom she was 
looking, and waved her parasol. Trevor, lifting his 



ADVENTURE OF THE MISERLY MARQUIS 301 

hat, approached; the lady had withdrawn into the 
carriage, and he entered. 

* Mum 's the word ! ' said the lady. 

' Why, it 's — hang it all, it 's Merton ! ' 
'Your sister is staying with you?' asked Merton 
eagerly. 

* Yes ; but what on earth ' 

' I '11 tell you in the brougham. But you take a 
weight off my bosom ! I am going to stay with you 
for a day or two ; and now my reputation (or Mrs. 
Lumley's) is safe. Your servants never saw Mrs. 
Lumley?' 

' Never,' said Trevor. 

' All right ! My portmanteau has her initials, 
S. M. L., and a crimson ticket; send a porter for it. 
Now take me to the brougham.' 

Trevor offered his arm and carried the dressing- 
bag; the lady was led to his carriage. The port- 
manteau was recovered, and they drove away. 

' Give me a cigarette,' said Merton, ' and I 'U tell 
you all about it.' 

He told Trevor all about it — except about the 
emu's feathers. 

'But a male disguise would have done as well,' 
said Trevor. 

' Not a bit. It would not have suited what I have 
to do in town. I cannot tell you why. The affair is 
complex. I have to settle it, if I can, so that neither 
Logan nor any one else — except the body-snatcher 
and polite letter-writer — shall ever know how I man- 
aged it.' 

Trevor had to be content with this reply. He took 



302 THE DISENTANGLERS 

Merton, when they arrived, into the smoking-room* 
rang for tea, and * squared his sister/ as he said, in the 
drawing-room. The pair were dining out, and after a 
solitary dinner, Merton (in a tea-gown) occupied 
himself with literary composition. He put his work 
in a large envelope, sealed it, marked it with a St. 
Andrew's cross, and, when Trevor returned, asked 
him to put it in his safe. ' Two days after to-morrow, 
if I do not appear, you must open the envelope and 
read the contents,' he said. 

After luncheon on the following day — a wet 
day — Miss Trevor and Merton (who was still ar- 
rayed as Mrs. Lumley) went out shopping. Miss 
Trevor then drove off to pay a visit (Merton could 
not let her know his next move), and he himself, his 
veil down, took a four-wheeled cab, and drove to 
Madame Claudine's. He made one or two purchases^ 
and then asked for the head of the establishment, an 
Irish lady. To her he confided that he had to break 
a piece of distressing family news to Miss Markham, 
of the cloak department ; that young lady was sum- 
moned ; Madame Claudine, with a face of sympathy^ 
ushered them into her private room, and went off to 
see a customer. Miss Markham was pale and trem- 
bling ; Merton himself felt agitated. 

' Is it about my father, or ' the girl asked. 

' Pray be calm,' said Merton. ' Sit down. Both 
are well.* 

The girl started. ' Your voice * she said. 

' Exactly,' said Merton ; ' you know me.' And 
taking off his glove, he showed a curious medixval 
ring, familiar to his friends. ' I could get at you in 



ADVENTURE OF THE MISERLY MARQUIS 303 

no other way than this/ he said, ' and it was abso- 
lutely necessary to see you.' 

'What is it? I know it is about my father/ said 
the girl. 

' He has done us a great service/ said Merton 
soothingly. He had guessed what the ' distressing 
circumstances ' were in which the marquis had been 
restored to life. Perhaps the reader guesses? A 
discreet person, who has secretly to take charge of a 
corpse of pecuniary value, adopts certain measures 
(discovered by the genius of ancient Egypt), for its 
preservation. These measures, doubtless, had re- 
vived the marquis, who thus owed his life to his 
kidnapper. 

* He has, I think, done us a great service,' Merton 
repeated; and the girl's colour returned to her 
beautiful face, that had been of marble. 

'Yet there are untoward circumstances,* Merton 
admitted. ' I wish to ask you two or three questions. 
I must give you my word of honour that I have no 
intention of injuring your father. The reverse ; I am 
really acting in his interests. Now, first, he has prac- 
tised in Australia. May I ask if he was interested in 
the Aborigines?' 

'Yes, very much,' said the girl, entirely puzzled. 
'But,' she added, 'he was never in the Labour 
trade.' 

' Blackbird catching? ' said Merton. ' No. But he 
had, perhaps, a collection of native arms and imple- 
ments?' 

' Yes ; a very fine one.' 

' Among them were, perhaps, some curious native 



304 THE DISENTANGLERS 

shoes, made of emu's feathers — they are called Inter^ 
linia or, by white men, Kurdaitclia shoes ? ' 

' I don't remember the name,' said Miss Markham, 
' but he had quite a number of them. The natives 
wear them to conceal their tracks when they go on a 
revenge party.' 

Merton's guess was now a certainty. The marquis 
had spoken of Miss Markham's father as a ' landloup- 
ing ' Australian doctor. The footmarks of the feath- 
ered shoes in the snow at Kirkbum proved that an 
article which only an Australian (or an anthropolo- 
gist) was likely to know of had been used by the 
body-snatchers. 

Merton reflected. Should he ask the girl whether 
she had told her father what, on the night of the 
marquis's appearance at the office, Logan had told 
her? He decided that this was superfluous; of 
course she had told her father, and the doctor had 
taken his measures (and the body of the marquis) 
accordingly. To ask a question would only be to 
enlighten the girl. 

* That is very interesting,' said Merton. * Now, I 
won't pretend that I disguised myself in this way 
merely to ask you about Australian curiosities. The 
truth is that, in your father's interests, I must have an 
interview with him.' 

' You don't mean to do him any harm? ' asked the 
girl anxiously. 

* I have given you my word of honour. As things 
stand, I do not conceal from you that I am the only 
person who can save him from a situation which might 
be disagreeable, and that is what I want to do.' 



ADVENTURE OF THE MISERLY MARQUIS 305 

' He will be quite safe if he sees you ? ' asked the 
girl, wringing her bands. 

' That is the only way in which he can be safe, I 
am afraid.' 

' You would not use a girl against her own father ? ' 

'I would sooner die where I sit/ said Merton 
earnestly. * Surely you can trust a friend of Mn 
Logan's — who, by the bye, is very well.' 

' Oh, oh,' cried the girl, ' I read that story of the 
stolen corpse in the papers. I understand ! ' 

' It was almost inevitable that you should under- 
stand,' said Merton. 

' But then,' said the girl, ' what did you mean by 
saying that my father has done you a great service. 
You are deceiving me. I have said too much. This 
is base I ' Miss Markham rose, her eyes and cheeks 
burning. 

' What I told you is the absolute and entire truth/ 
said Merton, nearly as red as she was. 

' Then,' exclaimed Miss Markham, ' this is baser 
yet ! You must mean that by doing what you think 
he has done my father has somehow enabled Robert 
— Mr. Logan — to come into the marquis's property. 
Perhaps the marquis left no will, or the will — is gone ! 
And do you believe that Mr. Logan will thank you 
for acting in this way?' She stood erect, her hand 
resting on the back of a chair, indignant and defiant. 

' In the first place, I have a written power from Mr. 

Logan to act as I think best. Next, I have not even 

informed myself as to how the law of Scotland stands 

in regard to the estate of a man who dies leaving no 

will. Lastly, Miss Markham, I am extremely ham- 

20 



3o6 THE DISENTANGLERS 

pered by the fact that Mr. Logan has not the re- 
motest suspicion of what I suspected — and now 
know — to be the truth as to the disappearance of 
his cousin's body. I successfully concealed my idea 
from Mr. Logan, so as to avoid giving pain to him 
and you. I did my best to conceal it from you» 
though I never expected to succeed. And now, if 
you wish to know how your father has conferred a 
benefit on Mr. Logan, I must tell you, though I would 
rather be silent. Mr. Logan is aware of the benefit, 
but will never, if you can trust yourself, suspect his 
benefactor.' 

' I can never, never see him again,' the girl sobbed. 

' Time is flying,' said Merton, who was familiar, in 
works of fiction, with the situation indicated by the 
girl. 'Can you trust me, or not?' he asked, 'My 
single object is secrecy and your father's safety. I 
owe that to my friend, to you, and even, as it happens* 
to your father. Can you enable me, dressed as I am, 
to have an interview with him ? ' 

' You will not hurt him ? You will not give him 
up ? You will not bring the police on him ? ' 

' I am acting as I do precisely for the purpose of 
keeping the police off him. They have discovered 
nothing.' 

The girl gave a sigh of relief. 

* Your father's only danger would lie in my — 
failure to return from my interview with him. Against 
that I cannot safeguard him ; it is fair to tell you so. 
But my success in persuading him to adopt a certain 
course would be equally satisfactory to Mr. Logan 
and to himself 



ADVENTURE OF THE MISERLY MARQUIS 307 

' Mr. Logan knows nothing?' 

' Absolutely nothing. I alone, and now you, know 
anything.' 

The girl walked up and down in agony. 

' Nobody will ever know if I do not tell you how to 
find him/ she said. 

' Unhappily that is not the case. I only ask you^ 
so that it may not be necessary to take other steps, 
tardy, but certain, and highly undesirable.' 

' You will not go to him armed ? ' 

* I give you my word of honour,' said Merton. ' I 
have risked myself unarmed already.' 

The girl paused with fixed eyes that saw nothing. 
Merton watched her. Then she took her resolve. 

' I do not know where he is living. I know that on 
Wednesdays, that is, the day after to-morrow, he is 
to be found at Dr. Fogarty's, a private asylum, a 
house with a garden, in Water Lane, Hammersmith.' 

It was the lane in which stood the Home for 
Destitute and Decayed Cats, whither Logan had once 
abducted Rangoon, the Siamese puss. 

' Thank you,* said Merton simply. * And I am to 
ask for ?' 

' Ask first for Dr. Fogarty. You will tell him that 
you wish to see the Ertwa Oknurcha' 

' Ah, Australian for ** The Big Man," ' said Merton. 

' I don't know what it means,' said Miss Markham. 
* Dr. Fogarty will then ask, '* Have you the 
churinga f " ' 

The girl drew out a slim gold chain which hung 
round her neck and under her dress. At the end of 
it was a dark piece of wood, shaped much like a large 



3o8 THE DISENTANGLERS 

cigar, and decorated with incised concentric circles, 
stained red. 

' Take that and show it to Dr. Fogarty/ said Miss 
Markham, detaching the object from the chain. 

Merton returned it to her. ' I know where to get 
a similar churinga,* he said. ' Keep your own. Its 
absence, if asked for, might lead to awkward 
questions.' 

' Thank you, I can trust you,' said Miss Markham, 
adding, ' You will address my father as Dr. Melville.' 
' Again thanks, and good-bye/ said Merton. He 
bowed and withdrew. 

' She is a good deal upset, poor girl,' Merton 
remarked to Madame Claudine, who, on going to 
comfort Miss Markham with tea, found her weeping. 
Merton took another cab, and drove to Trevor's 
house. 

After dinner (at which there were no guests), and 
in the smoking-room, Trevor asked whether he had 
made any progress. 

' Everything succeeded to a wish,' said Merton. 
'You remember Water Lane?' 

' Where Logan carried the Siamese cat in my cab/ 
said Trevor, grinning at the reminiscence. ' Rather ! 
I reconnoitred the place with Logan.' 

' Well, on the day after to-morrow I have business 
there.' 

' Not at the Cats' Home ? ' 

' No, but perhaps you might reconnoitre again. 
Do you remember a house with high walls and spikes 
on them ? ' 
* I do,' said Trevor ; * but how do you know? You 



ADVENTURE OF THE MISERLY MARQUIS 309 

never were there. You disapproved of Logan's 
method in the case of the cat.' 

' I never was there ; I only made a guess, because 
the house I am interested in is a private asylum.' 

' Well, you guessed right. What then ? ' 

* You might reconnoitre the ground to-morrow — 
the exits, there are sure to be some towards waste 
land or market gardens.' 

' Jolly ! ' said Trevor. * I '11 make up as a wanderer 
from Suffolk, looking for a friend in the slums ; semi- 
bargee kind of costume.' 

' That would do,' said Merton. ' But you had 
better go in the early morning.' 

' A nuisance. Why ? ' 

'Because, later, you will have to get a gang of 
fellows to be about the house the day after, when I 
pay my visit.' 

' Fellows of our own sort, or the police ? ' 

* Neither. I thought of fellows of our own sort. 
They would talk and guess.' 

'Better get some of Ned Mahony's gang?' asked 
Trevor. 

Mr. Mahony was an ex-pugilist, and a distinguished 
instructor in the art of self-defence. He also was 
captain of a gang of 'chuckers out.' 

'Yes,' said Merton, 'that is my idea. TAey will 
guess, too ; but when they know the place is a private 
lunatic asylum their hypothesis is obvious.' 

' They '11 think that a patient is to be rescued ? ' 

' That will be their idea. And the old trick is a 
good trick. Cart of coals blocked in the gateway, or 
with another cart — the bigger the better — in the 



3to THE DISENTANGLERS 

lane. The men will dress accordingly. Others will 
have stolen to the back and sides of the house ; you 
will, in short, stop the earths after I enter. Your 
brougham, after setting me down, will wait in 
Hammersmith Road, or whatever the road outside 

•9 * 

IS. 

' I may come ? ' asked Trevor. 

' In command, as a coal carter.' 

' Hooray 1 ' said Trevor, ' and I '11 tell you what, I 
won't reconnoitre as a bargee, but as a servant out 
of livery sent to look for a cat at the Home. And 
I '11 mistake the asylum for the Home for Cats, and 
try to scout a little inside the gates.' 

' Capital,' said Merton. ' Then, later, I want you 
to go to a curiosity shop near the Museum ' (he 
mentioned the street), ' and look into the window. 
You'll see a little brown piece of wood like tAisJ 
Merton sketched rapidly the piece of wood which 
Miss Markham wore under her dress. ' The man has 
several. Buy one about the size of a big cigar for 
me, and buy one or two other trifles first' 

' The man knows me,' said Trevor, ' I have bought 
things from him.' 

' Very good, but don't buy it when any other 
customer is in the shop. And, by the way, take 
Mrs. Lumley's portmanteau — the lock needs mend- 
ing — to Jones's in Sloane Street to be repaired. 
One thing more, I should like to add a few lines to 
that manuscript I gave you to keep in your safe.' 

Trevor brought the sealed envelope. Merton 
added a paragraph and resealed it. Trevor locked it 
up again. 



ADVENTURE OF THE MISERLY MARQUIS 311 

On the following day Trevor started early, did his 
scouting in Water Lane, and settled with Mr. Mahony 
about his gang of muscular young prize-fighters. He 
also brought the native Australian curiosity, and sent 
Mrs. Lumley's portmanteau to have the lock repaired. 

Merton determined to call at Dr. Fogarty's asylum 
at four in the afternoon. The gang, under Trevor, 
was to arrive half an hour later, and to surround and 
enter the premises if Merton did not emerge within 
half an hour. 

At four o'clock exactly Trevor's brougham was at 
the gates of the asylum. The footman rang the bell, 
a porter opened a wicket, and admitted a lady of 
fashionable aspect, who asked for Dr. Fogarty. She 

was ushered into his study, her card (* Louise, 13 

Street ') was taken by the servant, and Dr. Fogarty 
appeared. He was a fair, undecided looking man, 
with blue wandering eyes, and long untidy, reddish 
whiskers. He bowed and looked uncomfortable, as 
well he might. 

' I have called to see the Ertwa Oknurcha, Dr. 
Fogarty,' said Merton. 

'Oh Lord,' said Dr. Fogarty, and murmured, 
' Another of his lady friends I ' adding, ' I must ask, 
Miss, have you the churingaf^ 

Merton produced, out of his muff, the Australian 
specimen which Trevor had bought 

The doctor inspected it. ' I shall take it to the 
Ertwa Oknurcha^ he said, and shambled out. Pres- 
ently he returned. ' He will see you. Miss.' 

Merton found the redoubtable Dr. Markham, an 
elderly man, clean shaven, prompt-looking, with vtrf 



312 THE DISENTANGLERS 

keen dark eyes, sitting at a writing table, with a few 
instruments of his profession lying about. The table 
stood on an oblong space of uncarpeted and polished 
flooring of some extent. Dr. Fogarty withdrew, the 
other doctor motioned Merton to a chair on the 
opposite side of the table. This chair was also on the 
uncarpeted space, and Merton observed four small 
brass plates in the parquet. Arranging his draperies, 
and laying aside his muff, Merton sat down, slightly 
shifting the position of the chair. 

'Perhaps, Dr. Melville,' he said, 'it will be more 
reassuring to you if I at once hold my hands up,' and 
he sat there and smiled, holding up his neatly gloved 
hands. 

The doctor stared, and his hand stole towards an 
instrument like an unusually long stethoscope, which 
lay on his table. 

Merton sat there ' hands up,' still smiling. ' Ah, 
the blow-tube ? ' he said. ' Very good and quiet ! 
Do you use uralit Infinitely better, at close quar* 
ters, than the noisy old revolver.' 

' I see I have to do with a cool hand, sir,' said the 
doctor. 

' Ah,' said Merton. ' Then let us talk as between 
man and man.' He tilted his chair backwards, and 
crossed his legs. ' By the way, as I have no Aaron 
and Hur to help me to hold up my hands, may I drop 
them? The attitude, though reassuring, is fatiguing.' 

' If you won't mind first allowing me to remove 
your muff/ said the doctor. It lay on the table in 
front of Merton. 

'By all means, no gun in my muff,' said Merton. 



ADVENTURE OF THE MISERLY MARQUIS 313 

' In fact I think the whole pistol business is overdone, 
and second rate.* 

' I presume that I have the honour to speak to Mr. 
Merton ? ' asked the doctor. ' You slipped through 
the cordon ? ' 

*Yes, I was the intoxicated miner/ said Merton. 
*No doubt you. have received a report from your 
agents ? ' 

' Stupid fellows/ said the doctor. 

' You are not flattering to me, but let us come to 
business. How much ? ' 

' I need hardly ask/ said the doctor, ' it would be 
an insult to your intelligence, whether you have taken 
the usual precautions?' 

Merton, whose chair was tilted, threw himself vio- 
lently backwards, upsetting his chair, and then scram- 
bled nimbly to his feet. Between him and the table 
yawned a square black hole of unknown depth. 

' Hardly fair. Dr. Melville,' said he, picking up the 
chair, and placing it on the carpet, ' besides, I have 
taken the ordinary precautions. The house is sur- 
rounded — Ned Mahony's lambs — the usual state- 
ment is in the safe of a friend. We must really come 
to the point. Time is flying,' and he looked at his 
watch. * I can give you twenty minutes.' 

' Have you anything in the way of terms to pro- 
pose? ' asked the doctor, tilling his pipe. 

' Well, flrst, absolute secrecy. I alone know the 
state of the case.' 

* Has Mr. Logan no guess?' 

' Not the faintest suspicion. The detectives, when 
I left Kirkburn, had not even found the trap door, you 



314 THE DISENTANGLERS 

understand. You hit on its discovery through know- 
ing the priest's hole at Oxburgh Hall, I suppose ? * 

The doctor nodded. 

' You can guarantee absolute secrecy?' he asked. 

' Naturally, the knowledge is confined to me, you, 
and your partners. I want the secrecy in Mr. Logan's 
interests, and you know why.' 

'Well/ said the doctor, 'that is point one. So 
far I am with you.' 

'Then, to enter on odious details,' said Merton, 
'had you thought of any terms? ' 

' The old man was stiff,' said the doctor, ' and your 
side only offered to double him in your advertisement, 
you know.' 

' That was merely a way of speaking,' said Merton. 
' What did the marquis propose ? ' 

' Well, as his offer is not a basis of negotiation ? * 

• Certainly not,' said Merton. 

' Five hundred he offered, out of which we were to 
pay his fare back to Scotland.' 

Both men laughed. 

' But you have your own ideas? ' said Merton. 

'I had thought of 15,000/. and leaving England. 
He is a multimillionaire, the marquis.' 

'It is rather a pull,' said Merton. 'Now speaking 
as a professional man, and on honour, how is his lord* 
ship ? ' Merton asked. 

' Speaking as a professional man, he may live a 
year; he cannot live eighteen months, I stake my 
reputation on that.' 

Merton mused. 

' I '11 tell you what we can do,' he said. ' We can 



ADVENTURE OF THE MISERLY MARQUIS 315 

guarantee the interest, at a fancy rate, say five per 
cent, during the marquis's life, which you reckon as 
good for a year and a half, at most. The lump sum 
we can pay on his decease.' 

The doctor mused in his turn. 

' I don't like it. He may alter his will, and then 
— where do I come in? ' 

' Of course that is an objection,' said Merton. ' But 
where do you come in if you refuse? Logan, I can 
assure you (I have read up the Scots law since I came 
to town), is the heir if the marquis dies intestate. 
Suppose that I do not leave this house in a few 
minutes, Logan won't bargain with you ; we settled 
that ; and really you will have taken a great deal of 
trouble to your own considerable risk. You see 
the usual document, my statement, is lodged with 
a friend.' 

' There is certainly a good deal in what you say,* 
remarked the doctor. 

' Then, to take a more cheerful view,' said Merton, 
' I have medical authority for stating that any will 
made now, or later, by the marquis, would probably 
be upset, on the ground of mental unsoundness, you 
know. So Logan would succeed, in spite of a later 
will.' 

The doctor smiled. * That point I grant. Well, one 
must chance something. I accept your proposals. 
You will give me a written agreement, signed by Mr. 
Logan, for the arrangement.' 

' Yes, I have power to act.' 

' Then, Mr. Merton, why in the world did you not 
let your friend walk in Burlington Arcade, and see the 



3i6 THE DISENTANGLERS 

lady ? He would have been met with the same terms, 
and could have proposed the same modifications.' 

' Well, Dr. Melville, first, I was afraid that he might 
accidentally discover the real state of the case, as I 
surmised that it existed — that might have led to 
family inconveniences, you know.' 

' Yes,' the doctor admitted, ' I have felt that. My 
poor daughter, a good girl, sir ! It wrung my heart- 
strings, I assure you.' 

' I have the wannest sympathy with you,' said Mer- 
ton, going on. ' Well, in the second place, I was not 
sure that I could trust Mr. Logan, who has rather a 
warm temper, to conduct the negotiations. Thirdly, 
I fear I must confess that I did what I have done — 
well, " for human pleasure." ' 

• Ah, you are young,' said the doctor, sighing. 

' Now,' said Merton, * shall I sign a promise? We 
can call Dr. Fogarty up to witness it. By the bye, 
what about " value received " ? Shall we say that 
we purchase your ethnological collection?' 

The doctor grinned, and assented, the deed was 
written, signed, and witnessed by Dr. Fogarty, who 
hastily retreated. 

' Now about restoring the marquis,' said Merton. 
' He 's here, of course ; it was easy enough to get him 
into an asylum. Might I suggest a gag, if by chance 
you have such a thing about you? To be removed, 
of course, when once I get him into the house of a 
friend. And the usual bandage over his eyes: he 
must never know where he has been.' 

' You think of everything, Mr. Merton,' said the 
doctor. ' But, how are you to account for the mar- 
quis's reappearance alive ? ' he asked. 



ADVENTURE OF THE MISERLY MARQUIS 317 

* Oh that — easily ! My first theory, which I for- 
tunately mentioned to his medical attendant, Dr. 
Douglas, in the train, before I reached Kirkburn, was 
that he had recovered from catalepsy, and had se- 
cretly absconded, for the purpose of watching Mr. 
Logan's conduct. We shall make him believe that 
this is the fact, and the old woman who watched 
him ' 

' Plucky old woman,' said the doctor. 

' Will swear to anything that he chooses to say.' 

' Well, that is your affair,' said the doctor. 

* Now,' said Merton, * give me a receipt for 750/. ; 
we shall tell the marquis that we had to spring 250/. 
on his original offer.' 

The doctor wrote out, stamped, and signed the 
receipt. ' Perhaps I had better walk in front of you 
down stairs? ' he asked Merton. 

* Perhaps it really would be more hospitable,* Mer- 
ton acquiesced. 

Merton was ushered again into Dr. Fogarty's room 
on the ground floor. Presently the other doctor re- 
appeared, leading a bent and much muffled up figure, 
who preserved total silence — for excellent reasons. 
The doctor handed to Merton a sealed envelope, ob- 
viously the marquis's will. Merton looked closely 
into the face of the old marquis, whose eyes, drop- 
ping senile tears, showed no sign of recognition. 

Dr. Fogarty next adjusted a silken bandage, over a 
wad of cotton wool, which he placed on the eyes of 
the prisoner. 

Merton then took farewell of Dr. Melville {alias 
Markham) ; he and Dr. Fogarty supported the tot- 



3x8 THE DISENTANGLERS 

tering steps of Lord Restalrig, and they led him to 
the gate. 

' Tell the porter to call my brougham/ said Merton 
to Dr. Fogarty. 

The brougham was called and came to the gate, 
evading a coal-cart which was about to enter the lane. 
'Merton aided the marquis to enter, and said ' Home/ 
A few rough fellows, who were loitering in the lane, 
looked curiously on. In half an hour the marquis, 
his gag and the bandage round his eyes removed, 
was sitting in Trevor's smoking-room, attended to 
by Miss Trevor. 

It is probably needless to describe the simple and 
obvious process (rather like that of the Man, the 
Goose, and the Fox) by which Mrs. Lumley, with 
her portmanteau, left Trevor's house that evening to 
pay another visit, while Merton himself arrived, in 
evening dress, to dinner at a quarter past eight. He 
had telegraphed to Logan: 'Entirely successful. 
Come up by the 11.30 to-night, and bring Mrs. 
Bower.' 

The marquis did not appear at dinner. He was 
in bed, and, thanks to a sleeping potion, slumbered 
soundly. He awoke about nine in the morning to 
find Mrs. Bower by his bedside. 

' Eh, marquis, finely we have jinked them,' said 
Mrs. Bower ; and she went on to recount the ingenious 
measures by which the marquis, recovering from his 
' dwawm,' had secretly withdrawn himself 

* I mind nothing of it, Jeanie, my woman,' said the 
marquis. 'I thought I wakened with some deevil 
running a knife into me ; he might have gone further. 



ADVENTURE OF THE MISERLY MARQUIS 3x9 

and I might have fared worse. He asked for money, 
but, faith, we niifered long and came to no bargain. 
And a woman brought me away. Who was the 
woman?' 

' Oh, dreams,' said Mrs. Bower. * Ye had another 
sair fit o' the dwawming, and we brought you here to 
see the London doctors. Hoo could ony mortal 
speerit ye away, let be it was the fairies, and me 
watching you a' the time ! A fine gliff ye gie'd me 
when ye sat up and askit for sma' yill ' (small beer). 

* I mind nothing of it/ replied the marquis. How- 
ever, Mrs. Bower stuck to her guns, and the marquis 
was, or appeared to be, resigned to accept her ex- 
planation. He dozed throughout the day, but next 
day he asked for Merton. Their interview was satis- 
factory; Merton begged leave to introduce Logan, 
and the marquis, quite broken down, received his 
kinsman with tears, and said nothing about his 
marriage. 

' I 'm a dying man,* he remarked finally, ' but I '11 
live long enough to chouse the taxes.* 

His sole idea was to hand over (in the old Scottish 
fashion) the main part of his property to Logan, 
inter vivos, and then to live long enough to evade the 
death-duties. Merton and Logan knew well enough 
the unsoundness of any such proceedings, especially 
considering the mental debility of the old gentleman. 
However, the papers were made out. The marquis 
retired to one of his English seats, after which event 
his reappearance was made known to the world. In 
his English home Logan sedulously nursed him. A 
more generous diet than he had ever known before 



320 THE DISENTANGLERS 

did wonders for the marquis, though he peevishly 
remonstrated against every bottle of wine that was 
uncorked. He did live for the span which he deemed 
necessary for his patriotic purpose, and peacefully 
expired, his last words being ' Nae grand funeral/ 

Public curiosity, of course, was keenly excited 
about the mysterious reappearance of the marquis in 
life. But the interviewers could extract nothing from 
Mrs. Bower, and Logan declined to be interviewed. 
To paragraphists the mystery of the marquis was * a 
two months' feast,' like the case of Elizabeth Cannings 
long ago. 

Logan inherited under the marquis's original will, 
and, of course, the Exchequer benefitted in the way 
which Lord Restalrig had tried to frustrate. 

Miss Markham (whose father is now the distin- 
guished head of the ethnological department in an 
American museum) did not persist in her determina- 
tion never to see Logan again. The beautiful Lady 
Fastcastle never allows her photograph to appear 
in the illustrated weekly papers. Logan, or rather 
Fastcastle, does not unto this day, know the secret 
of the Emir's feathers, though, later, he sorely tried 
the secretiveness of Merton, as shall be shown in 
the following narrative. 



XII 

ADVENTURE OF THE CANADIAN HEIRESS 

/. At Castle Skrae 

* T TOW vain a thing is wealth,* said Merton. ' How 

Xl little it can give of what we really desire, while 
of all that is lost and longed for it can restore nothing 
— except churches — and to do that ought to be made 
a capital offence.' 

' Why do you contemplate life as a whole, Mr. 
Merton? Why are you so moral? If you think it is 
amusing you are \^ty much mistaken! Isn't the 
scenery, is n't the weather, beautiful enough for you? 
/ could gaze for ever at the '' unquiet bright Atlantic 
plain," the rocky isles, those cliffs of basalt on either 
hand, while I listened to the crystal stream that slips 
into the sea, and waves the yellow fringes of the sea- 
weed. Don't be melancholy, or I go back to the 
castle. Try another line ! ' 

' Ah, I doubt that I shall never wet one here,' said 
Merton. 

' As to the crystal stream, what business has it to 
be crystal ? That is just what I complain of. Salmon 
and sea-trout are waiting out there in the bay, and 
they can't come up ! Not a drop of rain, to call rain, 
for the last three weeks. That is what I meant by 

21 



322 THE DISENTANGLERS 

moralising about wealth. You can buy half a county, 
if you have the money ; you can take half a dozen 
rivers, but all the millions of our host cannot purchase 
us a spate, and without a spate you might as well 
break the law by fishing in the Round Pond as in the 
river.' 

' Luckily for me Alured does not much care for 
fishing/ said Lady Bude, who was Merton's com- 
panion. The Countess had abandoned, much to her 
lord's regret, the coloured and figurative language of 
her maiden days, the American slang. Now (as may 
have been observed) her style was of that polished 
character which can only be heard to perfection in 
circles socially elevated and intellectually cultured — 
* in that Garden of the Souls ' — to quote Tennyson. 

The spot where Merton and Lady Bude were seated 
was beautiful indeed. They reclined on the short sea 
grass above a shore where long tresses of safTron-hued 
seaweed clothed the boulders, and the bright sea 
pinks blossomed. On their right the Skrae, now 
clearer than amber, mingled its waters with the sea 
loch. On their left was a steep bank clad with 
bracken, climbing up to perpendicular cliffs of basalt. 
These ended abruptly above the valley and the cove, 
and permitted a view of the Atlantic, in which, far 
away, the isle of the Lewis lay like a golden shield in 
the faint haze of the early sunset. On the other side 
of the sea loch, whose restless waters ever rushed in 
or out like a rapid river, with the change of tides, was 
a small village of white thatched cottages, the homes 
of fishermen and crofters. The neat crofts lay be- 
hind, in oblong strips, on the side of the hill. Such 



ADVENTURE OF THE CANADIAN HEIRESS 323 

was the scene of a character common on the remote 
west coast of Sutherland. 

' Alured is no maniac for fishing, luckily/ Lady 
Bude was saying. ' To-day he is cat-hunting.' 

' I regret it/ said Merton ; * I profess myself the 
friend of cats.* 

* He is only trying to photograph a wild cat at 
home in the hills; they are very scarce.' 

' In fact he is Jones Harvey, the naturalist again, 
for the nonce, not the sportsman,' said Merton. 

' It was as Jones Harvey that he ' said Lady 

Bude, and, blushing, stopped. 

* That he grasped the skirts of happy chance,' said 
Merton. 

' Why don't ^ou grasp the skirts, Mr. Merton ? ' 
asked Lady Bude. ' Chance, or rather Lady Fortune, 
who wears the skirts, would, I think, be happy to 
have them grasped.' 

' Whose skirts do you allude to?' 

' The skirts, short enough in the Highlands, of Miss 
Macrae,' said Lady Bude ; ' she is a nice girl, and a 
pretty girl, and a clever girl, and, after all, there are 
worse things than millions.' 

Miss Emmeline Macrae was the daughter of the 
host with whom the Budes and Merton were staying 
at Skrae Castle, on Loch Skrae, only an easy mile 
and a half from the sea and the cove beside which 
Merton and Lady Bude were sitting. 

' There is a seal crawling out on to the shore of the 
little island ! ' said Merton. ' What a brute a man 
must be who shoots a seal ! I could watch them all 
day — on a day like this.' 



324 THE DISENTANGLERS 

'That is not answering my question/ said Lady 
Bude. 'What do you think of Miss Macrae? I 
know what you think ! ' 

' Can a humble person like myself aspire to the 
daughter of the greatest living millionaire? Our host 
can do almost anything but bring a spate, and even 
that he could do by putting a dam with a sluice at 
the foot of Loch Skrae : a matter of a few thousands 
only. As for the lady, her heart it is another's, it 
never can be mine.' 

' Whose it is? ' asked Lady Bude. 

' Is it not, or do my trained instincts deceive me, 
that of young Blake, the new poet? Is she not " the 
girl who gives to song what gold could never buy " ? 
He is as handsome as a man has no business to be.' 

' He uses belladonna for his eyes/ said Lady Bude. 
' I am sure of it* 

' Well, she does not know, or does not mind, and 
they are pretty inseparable the last day or two.' 

' That is your own fault,' said Lady Bude ; ' you 
banter the poet so cruelly. She pities him.' 

' I wonder that our host lets the fellow keep staying 
here,' said Merton. ' If Mr. Macrae has a foible, ex- 
cept that of the pedigree of the Macraes (who were 
here before the Macdonalds or Mackenzies, and have 
come back in his person), it is scientific inventions, 
electric lighting, and his new toy, the wireless tele- 
graph box in the observatory. You can see the 
tower from here, and the pole with box on top. 
I don't care for that kind of thing myself, but Macrae 
thinks it Paradise to get messages from the Central 
News and the Stock Exchange up here, fifty miles 



ADVENTURE OF THE CANADIAN HEIRESS 325 

from a telegraph post. Well, yesterday Blake was 
sneering at the whole affair/ 

' What is this wireless machine ? Explain it to me,' 
said Lady Bude. 

* How can you be so cruel?' asked Merton. 
'Why cruel?' 

' Oh, you know very well how your sex receives 
explanations. You have three ways of doing it' 

' Explain them I ' 

' Well, the first way is, if a man tries to explain 
what " per cent " means, or the difference of " odds 
on," or " odds against," that is, if they don't gamble, 
they cast their hands desperately abroad, and cry, 
" Oh, don't, I never can understand ! " The second 
way is to sit and smile, and look intelligent, and think 
of their dressmaker, or their children, or their young 
man, and then to say, " Thank you, you have made it 
all so clear ! " ' 

'And the third way?' 

' The third way is for you to make it plain to the 
explainer that he does not understand what he is 
explaining.' 

* Well, try me ; how does the wireless machine 
work?' 

' Then, to begin with a simple example in ordinary 
life, you know what telepathy is?' 

* Of course, but tell me.' 

' Suppose Jones is thinking of Smith, or rather of 
Smith's sister. Jones is dying, or in a row, in India. 
Miss Smith is in Bayswater. She sees Jones in her 
drawing-room. The thought of Jones has struck a 
receiver of some sort in the brain, say, of Miss Smith. 



326 THE DISENTANGLERS 

But Miss Smith may not see him, somebody else may» 
say her aunt, or the footman. That is because the 
aunt or the footman has the properly tuned receiver 
in her or his brain, and Miss Smith has not' 

' I see, so far — but the machine? ' 

' That is an electric apparatus charged with a mes- 
sage. The message is not conducted by wires, but is 
merely carried along on a new sort of waves, " Hertz 
waves," I think, but that does not matter. They roam 
through space, these waves, and wherever they meet 
another machine of the same kind, a receiver, they 
communicate it' 

' Then everybody who has such a machine as Mr. 
Macrae's gets all Mr. Macrae's messages for nothing? ' 
asked Lady Bude. 

' They would get them,' said Merton. ' But that is 
where the artfulness comes in. Two Italian magicians, 
or electricians, Messrs. Gianesi and Giambresi, have 
invented an improvement suggested by a dodge of the 
Indians on the Amazon River. They make machines 
which are only in tune with each other. Their 
machine fires off a message which no other machine 
can receive or tap except that of their customer, say 
Mr. Macrae. The other receivers all over the world 
don't get it, they are not in tune. It is as if Jones 
could only appear as a wraith to Miss Smith, and 
vice versa* 

* How is it done ? * 

' Oh, don't ask me ! Besides, I fancy it is a trade 
secret, the tuning. There's one good thing about 
it, you know how Highland landscape is spoiled by 
telegraph posts ? ' 



ADVENTURE OF THE CANADIAN HEIRESS 327 

' Yes, everywhere there is always a telegraph post 
in the foreground.' 

'Well, Mr. Macrae had them when he was here 
first, but he has had them all cut down, bless him, 
since he got the new dodge. He was explaining it 
all to Blake and me, and Blake only scoffed, would 
not understand, showed he was bored.' 

* I think it delightful ! What did Mr. Blake say ? ' 

' Oh, his usual stuff. Science is an expensive and 
inadequate substitute for poetry and the poetic gifts 
of the natural man, who is still extant in Ireland. 
He can flash his thoughts, and any trifles of news he 
may pick up, across oceans and continents, with no 
machinery at all. What is done in Khartoum is known 
the same day in Cairo.' 

'What did Mr. Macrae say?' 

' He asked why the Cairo people did not make 
fortunes on the Stock Exchange.' 

'And Mr. Blake?' 

' He looked a great deal, but he said nothing. 
Then, as I said, he showed that he was bored when 
Macrae exhibited to us the machine and tried to teach 
us how it worked, and the philosophy of it. Blake 
did not understand it, nor do I, really, but of course 
I displayed an intelligent interest. He did n't display 
any. He said that the telegraph thing only brought 
us nearer to all that a child of nature ' 

' He a child of nature, with his belladonna ! ' 

'To all that a child of nature wanted to forget. 
The machine emitted a serpent of tape, news of 
Surrey v. Yorkshire, and something about Kaffirs, 
and Macrae was enormously pleased, for such are the 



328 THE DISENTANGLERS 

simple joys of the millionaire, really a child of nature. 
Some of them keep automatic hydraulic organs and 
beastly machines that sing. Now Macrae is not a 
man of that sort, and he has only one motor up here, 
and only uses that for practical purposes to bring 
luggage and supplies, but the wireless thing is the 
apple of his eye. And Blake sneered.' 

' He is usually very civil indeed, almost grovelling, 
to the father,' said Lady Bude. ' But I tell you for 
your benefit, Mr. Merton, that he has no chance with 
the daughter. I know it for certain. He only amuses 
her. Now here, you are clever.' 

Merton bowed. 

' Clever, or you would not have diverted me from 
my question with all that science. You are not ill 
looking.' 

'Spare my blushes,' said Merton; adding, 'Lady 
Bude, if you must be answered, you are clever enough 
to have found me out' 

'That needed less acuteness than you suppose,' 
said the lady. 

' I am very sorry to hear it,' said Merton. ' You 
know how utterly hopeless it is.' 

' There I don't agree with you,' said Lady Bude. 

Merton blushed. ' If you are right,' he said, * then 
I have no business to be here. What am I in the 
eyes of a man like Mr. Macrae? An adventurer, 
that is what he would think me. I did think that I 
had done nothing, said nothing, looked nothing, but 
having the chance — well, I could not keep away 
from her. It is not honourable. I must go. ... I 
love her.' 



ADVENTURE OF THE CANADIAN HEIRESS 329 

Merton turned away and gazed at the sunset with- 
out seeing it. 

Lady Bude put forth her hand and laid it on his. 
* Has this gone on long? * she asked. 

' Rather an old story/ said Merton. ' I am a fool. 
That is the chief reason why I was praying for rain. 
She fishes, very keen on it I would have been on 
the loch or the river with her. Blake does not fish, 
and hates getting wet.' 

'You might have more of her company, if you 
would not torment the poet so. The green-eyed 
monster, jealousy, is on your back.' 

Merton groaned. ' I bar the fellow, anyhow,' he 
said. ' But, in any case, now that I know you have 
found me out, I must be going. If only she were as 
poor as I am ! '• 

'You can't go to-morrow, to-morrow is Sunday,' 
said Lady Bude. ' Oh, I am sorry for you. Can't 
we think of something? Cannot you find an opening? 
Do something great ! Get her upset on the loch, and 
save her from drowning ! Mr. Macrae dotes on her ; 
he would be grateful.' 

' Yes, I might take the pin out of the bottom of the 
boat,' said Merton. ' It is an idea ! But she swims 
at least as well as I do. Besides — hardly sports- 
manlike.' 

Lady Bude tried to comfort him ; it is the mission 
of young matrons. He must not be in such a hurry 
to go away. As to Mr. Blake, she could entirely re- 
assure him. It was a beautiful evening, the lady was 
fair and friendly ; Nature, fragrant of heather and of 
the sea, was hushed in a golden repose. The two 



330 THE DISENTANGLERS 

talked long, and the glow of sunset was fading; 
the eyes of Lady Bude were a little moist, and Mer- 
ton was feeling rather consoled when they rose and 
walked back towards Skrae Castle. It had been an 
ancient seat of the Macraes, a clan in relatively mod- 
ern times, say 1745, rather wild, impoverished, and 
dirty ; but Mr. Macrae, the great Canadian million- 
aire, had bought the old place, with many thousands 
of acres * where victual never grew.' 

Though a landlord in the Highlands he was beloved, 
for he was the friend of crofters, as rent was no ob- 
ject to him, and he did not particularly care for sporL 
He accepted the argument, dear to the Celt, that 
salmon are ground game, and free to all, while the 
natives were allowed to use ancient flint-locked fusils 
on his black cocks. Mr. Macrae was a thoroughly 
generous man, and a tall, clean-shaved, graceful per- 
sonage. His public gifts were large. He had just 
given 500,000/. to Oxford to endow chairs and students 
of Psychical Research, while the^ rest of the million 
was bestowed on Cambridge, to supply teaching in 
Elementary Logic. His way of life was comfortable, 
but simple, except where the comforts of science and 
modern improvements were concerned. There were 
lifts, or elevators, now in the castle of Skrae, though 
Blake always went the old black corkscrew staircases, 
holding on by the guiding rope, after the poetical 
manner of our ancestors. 

On a knowe which commanded the castle, in a 
manner that would have pained Sir Dugald Dalgetty, 
Mr. Macrae had erected, not a * sconce,' but an ob- 
servatory, with a telescope that 'licked the Lick 



ADVENTURE OF THE CANADIAN HEIRESS 331 

thing/ as he said. Indeed it was his foible ' to see 
the Americans and go one better/ and he spoke 
without tolerance of the late boss American mil- 
lionaire, the celebrated J. P. van Huytens, recently 
deceased. 

Duke Humphrey greater wealth computes. 
And sticks, they say, at nothing, 

sings the poet. Mr. Macrae computed greater wealth 
than Mr. van Huytens, though avoiding ostentation; 
he did not 

Wear a pair of golden boots. 
And silver underclothing. 

The late J. P. van Huytens he regarded with moral 
scorn. This rival millionaire had made his wealth by 
the process (apparently peaceful and horticultural) 
of ' watering stocks,' and by the seemingly misplaced 
generosity of overcapitalising enterprises, and * grab- 
bing side shows.' The nature of these and other 
financial misdemeanours Merton did not understand. 
But he learned from Mr. Macrae that thereby J. P. van 
Huytens had scooped in the widow, the orphan, the 
clergyman, and the colonel. The two men had met 
in the most exclusive circles of American society; 
with the young van Huytenses the daughter of the 
millionaire had even been on friendly terms, but 
Mr. Macrae retired to Europe, and put a stop to all 
that. To do so, indeed, was one of his motives 
for returning to the home of his ancestors, the 
remote and inaccessible Castle Skrae. The Sports^ 
man's Guide to Scotland says, as to Loch Skrae: 
* Railway to Lairg, then walk or hire forty-five miles.' 



332 THE DISENTANGLERS 

The young van Huytenses were not invited to walk 
or hire. 

Van Huytens had been ostentatious, Mr. Macrae 
was the reverse. His costume was of the simplest, 
his favourite drink (of which he took little) was what 
humorists call ' the light wine of the country/ 
drowned in Apollinaris water. His establishment was 
refined, but not gaudy or luxurious, and the chief 
sign of wealth at Skrae was the great observatory 
with the laboratory, and the surmounting * pole with 
box on top,' as Merton described the apparatus for 
the new kind of telegraphy. In the basement of the 
observatory was lodged the hugest balloon known to 
history, and a skilled expert was busied with novel 
experiments in aerial navigation. Happily he could 
swim, and his repeated descents into Loch Skrae did 
not daunt his soaring genius. 

Above the basement of the observatory were rooms 
for bachelors, a smoking-room, a billiard-room, and a 
scientific library. The wireless telegraphy machine 
(looking like two boxes, one on the top of the other, 
to the eye of ignorance) was installed in the smok- 
ing-room, and a wire to Mr. Macrae's own rooms in- 
formed him, by ringing a bell (it also rang in the 
smoking-room), when the machine began to spread 
itself out in tape conveying the latest news. The 
machine communicated with another in the establish- 
ment of its vendors, Messrs. Gianesi, Giambresi & 
Co., in Oxford Street. Thus the millionaire, though 
residing nearly fifty miles from the nearest station at 
Lairg, was as well and promptly informed as if he 
dwelt in Fleet Street, and he could issue, without 



ADVENTURE OF THE CANADIAN HEIRESS 333 

a moment's procrastination, his commands to sell and 
buy, and to do such other things as pertain to the 
nature of millionaires. When we add that a steam 
yacht of great size and comfort, doing an incredible 
number of knots an hour on the turbine system, lay 
at anchor in the sea loch, we have indicated the 
main peculiarities of Mr. Macrae's rural establish- 
ment. Wealth, though Merton thought so poorly 
of it, had supplied these potentialities of enjoyment ; 
but, alas ! disease had ' decimated ' the grouse on the 
moors (of course to decimate now means almost to 
extirpate), and the crofters had increased the pleas- 
ures of stalking by making the stags excessively shy, 
thus adding to the arduous enjoyment of the true 
sportsman. 

To Castle Skrae, being such as we have described, 
Lady Bude and Merton returned from their sentimental 
prowl. They found Miss Macrae, in a very short skirt 
of the Macrae tartan, trying to teach Mr. Blake to 
play ping-pong in the great hall. 

We must describe the young lady, though her charms 
outdo the powers of the vehicle of prose. She was 
tall, slim, and graceful, light of foot as a deer on the 
corrie. Her hair was black, save when the sun shone 
on it and revealed strands of golden brown ; it was 
simply arrayed, and knotted on the whitest and shape- 
liest neck in Christendom. Her eyebrows were dark, 
her eyes large and lucid, 

The greyest of things blue. 
The bluest of things grey. 

Her complexion was of a clear pallor, like the white 
rose beloved by her ancestors; her features were all 



334 THE DISENTANGLERS 

but classic, with the charm of romance ; but what 
made her unique was her mouth. It was faintly 
upturned at the corners, as in archaic Greek art ; she 
had, in the slightest and most gracious degree, what 
Logan, describing her once, called ' the iGginetan 
grin.' This gave her an air peculiarly gay and win- 
some, brilliant, joyous, and alert. In brief, to use 
Chaucer's phrase. 

She was as wincy as a wanton colt, 
Sweet as a flower, and upright as a bolt. 

She was the girl who was teaching the poet the ele- 
ments of ping-pong. The poet usually missed the 
ball, for he was averse to and unapt for anything 
requiring quickness of eye and dexterity of hand. On 
a seat lay open a volume of the Poetry of the Celtic 
Renascence^ which Blake had been reading to Miss 
Macrae till she used the vulgar phrase ' footle,' and 
invited him to be educated in ping-pong. Of these 
circumstances she cheerfully informed the new-comers, 
adding that Lord Bude had returned happy, having 
photographed a wild cat in its lair. 

' Did he shoot it?' asked Blake. 

' No. He 's a sportsman ! ' said Miss Macrae. 

' That is why I supposed he must have shot the cat,' 
answered Blake. 

'What is Gaelic for a wild cat, Blake?' asked 
Merton unkindly. 

Like other modern Celtic poets Mr. Blake was 
entirely ignorant of the melodious language of his an- 
cestors, though it had often been stated in the literary 
papers that he was ' going to begin ' to take lessons. 



ADVENTURE OF THE CANADIAN HEIRESS 335 

* Sans purr,** answered Blake; 'the Celtic wild cat 
has not the servile accomplishment of purring. The 
words, a little altered, arc the motto of the Argylc 
and Sutherland Highlanders. This is the country of 
the wild cat* 

* I thought the " wild cat" was a peculiarly Ameri- 
can financial animal,' said Merton. 

Miss Macrae laughed, and, the gong sounding (by 
electricity, the wire being connected with the Green- 
wich Observatory), she ran lightly up the central 
staircase. Lady Bude had hurried to rejoin her lord ; 
Merton and Blake sauntered out to their rooms in 
the observatory, Blake with an air of fatigue and 
languor. 

* Learning ping-pong easily? ' asked Merton. 

' I have more hopes of teaching Miss Macrae the 
essential and intimate elements of Celtic poetry,' said 
Blake. ' One box of books I brought with me, 
another arrived to-day. I am about to begin on my 
Celtic drama of " Con of the Hundred Battles." ' 

'Have you the works of the ancient Sennachie, 
Macfootle?' asked Merton. He was jealous, and his 
usual urbanity was sorely tried by the Irish bard. 
In short, he was rude; stupid, too. 

However, Blake had his revenge after dinner, on the 
roof of the observatory, where the ladies gathered 
round him in the faint silver light, looking over the 
sleeping sea. ' Far away to the west,' he said, ' lies 
the Celtic paradise, the Isle of Apples ! ' 

' American apples are excellent,' said Merton, but 
the beauty of the scene and natural courtesy caused 
Miss Macrae to whisper ' Hush ! ' 



336 THE DISENTANGLERS 

The poet went on, * May I speak to you the words 
of the emissary from the lovely land?' 

*The mysterious female?' said Merton brutally. 
* Dr. Hyde calls her " a mysterious female." It is in 
his Literary History of Ireland! 

' Pray let us hear the poem, Mr. Merton/ said Miss 
Macrae, attuned to the charm of the hour and the 
scene. 

' She came to Bran's Court,' said Blake, ' from the 
Isle of Apples, and no man knew whence she came, 
and she chanted to them.' 

'Twenty-eight quatrains, no less, a hundred and 
twelve lines,' said the insufferable Merton. 'Could 
you g^ve us them in Gaelic ? ' 

The bard went on, not noticing the interruption^ ' I 
shall translate 

There is a distant isle 

Around which sea horses glisten, 

A fair course against the white swelling surge, 

Four feet uphold it.' 

* Feet of white bronze under it.' 
' White bronze, what 's that, eh? ' asked the practical 
Mr. Macrae. 

' Glittering through beautiful ages I 
Lovely land through the world's age. 
On which the white blossoms drop.' 

' Beautiful ! ' said Miss Macrae. 

' There are twenty-six more quatrains,' said Merton. 

The bard went on, 

' A beautiful game, most delightful. 
They play ' 



ADVENTURE OF THE CANADIAN HEIRESS 337 

* Ping-pong? ' murmured Merton. 

* Hush ! ' said Lady Bude. 
Miss Macrae turned to the poet. 

* They play, sitting at the luxurious wine, 
Men and gentle women under a bush. 
Without sin, without crime.' 

'They are playing still,' Blake added. 'Unbeheld, 
undisturbed ! I verily believe there is no Gael even 
now who would not in his heart of hearts let drift by 
him the Elysiums of Virgil, Dante, and Milton, to 
grasp at the Moy Mell, the Apple Isle, of the un- 
known Irish pagan ! And then to play sitting at the 
luxurious wine, 

* Men and gentle women under a bush ! ' 

* It really cannot have been ping-pong that they 
played at, sitting. Bridge, more likely,' said Merton. 
' And " good wine needs no bush ! " ' 

The bard moved away, accompanied by his young 
hostess, who resented Merton's cynicism. 

' Tell me more of that lovely poem, Mr. Blake,' she 
said. 

* I am jangled and out of tune,' said Blake wildly. 
'The Sassenach is my torture! Let me take your 
hand, it is cool as the hands of the foam-footed 
maidens of — of — what's the name of the place?' 

' Was it Clonmell? ' asked Miss Macrae, letting him 
take her hand. 

He pressed it against his burning brow. 

' Though you laugh at me,' said Blake, ' sometimes 
you are kind ! I am upset — I hardly know myself. 

22 



338 THE DISENTANGLERS 

What is yonder shape skirting the lawn? Is it the 
Daoine Sidh ? ' 

* Why do you call her " the downy she " ? She is 
no more artful than other people. She is my maid, 
Elspeth Mackay/ answered Miss Macrae, puzzled. 
They were alone, separated from the others by the 
breadth of the roof. 

' I said the Daoine Sidh^ replied the poet, spelling 
the words. ' It means the People of Peace.' 

* Quakers ? ' 

'No, the fairies,' groaned the misunderstood bard. 
'Do you know nothing of your ancestral tongue? Do 
you call yourself a Gael? ' 

' Of course I call myself a girl,' answered Miss 
Macrae. ' Do you want me to call myself a young 
lady?' 

The poet sighed. * I thought you understood me/ 
he said. ' Ah, how to escape, how to reach the undis- 
covered West ! ' 

' But Columbus discovered it,' said Miss Macrae. 

•The undiscovered West of the Celtic heart's 
desire,' explained the bard; 'the West below the 
waters! Thither could we twain sail in the magic 
boat of Bran ! Ah see, the sky opens like a flower ! ' 

Indeed, there was a sudden glow of summer light- 
ning. 

' That looks more like rain/ said Merton, who was 
standing with the Budes at an opposite corner of the 
roof. 

' I say, Merton,* asked Bude, 'how can you be so 
uncivil to that man? He took it very well.' 

' A rotter,' said Merton. ' He has just got that 



ADVENTURE OF THE CANADIAN HEIRESS 339 

stuff by heart, the verse and a lot of the prose, out of 
a book that I brought down myself, and left in the 
smoking-room. I can show you the place if you like.' 

' Do, Mr. Merton. But how foolish you are I do be 
civil to the man,' whispered Lady Bude, who shared 
his disbelief in Blake ; and at that moment the tinkle 
of an electric bell in the smoking-room below reached 
the expectant ears of Mr. Macrae. 

' Come down, all of you,' he said. * The wireless 
telegraphy is at work.' 

He waited till they were all in the smoking-room, 
and feverishly examined the tape. 

* Escape of De Wet,' he read. ' Disasters to the 
Imperial Yeomanry. Strike of Cigarette Makers. 
Great Fire at Hackney.' 

* There ! ' he exclaimed triumphantly. ' We might 
have gone to bed in London, and not known all that 
till we got the morning papers to-morrow. And here 
we are fifty miles from a railway station or a tele- 
graph office — no, we 're nearer Inchnadampf.' 

'Would that / were in the Isle of Apples, Mell 
Moy, far, far from civilisation ! ' said Blake. 

" There shall be no grief there or sorrow," so sings 
the minstrel of The Wooing of Etain. 

" Fresh flesh of swine, banquets of new milk and 
ale shalt thou have with me then, fair lady," Merton 
read out from the book he had been speaking of to 
the Budes. 

* Jolly place, the Celtic Paradise ! Fresh flesh of 
swine, banquets of ale and new milk. Quel luxe I ' 

* Is that the kind of entertainment you were offer- 
ing me, Mr. Blake?' asked Miss Macrae gaily. ' Mr. 



340 THE DISENTANGLERS 

Blake/ she went on, ' has been inviting me to fly to 
the undiscovered West beneath the waters, in the 
magic boat of Bran/ 

'Did Bran invent the submarine?' asked Mr. 
Macrae, and then the company saw what they had 
never seen before, the bard blushing. He seemed so 
discomposed that Miss Macrae took compassion on 
him. 

' Never mind my father, Mr. Blake,' she said, ' he is 
a very good Highlander, and believes in Eachain of 
the Hairy Arm as much as the crofters do. Have 
you heard of Eachain, Mr. Blake? He is a spectre 
in full Highland costume, attached to our clan. When 
we came here first, to look round, we had only horses 
hired from Edinburgh, and a Lowlander — mark you» 
dL Lowlander — to drive. He was in the stable one 
afternoon — the old stable, we have pulled it down — 
when suddenly the horses began to kick and rear. 
He looked round to the open door, and there stood 
a huge Highlander in our tartans, with musket, 
pistols, claymore, dirk, skian, and all, and soft brogues 
of untanned leather on his feet. The coachman, in a 
panic, made a blind rush at the figure, but behold, 
there was nobody, and a boy outside had seen no 
man. The horses were trembling and foaming. Now 
it was a Lowlander from Teviotdale that saw the 
man, and the crofters were delighted. They said the 
figure was the chief that fell at Culloden, come to 
welcome us back. So you must not despair of us, 
Mr. Blake, and you, that have '* the sight," may see 
Eachain yourself, who knows?' 

This happy turn of the conversation exactly suited 



ADVENTURE OF THE CANADIAN HEIRESS 341 

Blake. He began to be very amusing about magic, 
and brownies, and * the downy she/ as Miss Macrae 
called the People of Peace. The ladies presently 
declared that they were afraid to go to bed ; so they 
went, Miss Macrae indicating her displeasure to 
Merton by the coldness of her demeanour. 

The men, who were rather dashed by the pleasant 
intelligence which the telegraph had communicated, 
sat up smoking for a while, and then retired in a 
subdued state of mind. 

Next morning, which was Sunday, Merton appeared 
rather late at breakfast, late and pallid. After a 
snatch of disturbed slumber, he had wakened, or 
seemed to waken, fretting a good deal over the 
rusticity of his bearing towards Blake, and over his 
hopeless affair of the heart. He had vexed his lady. 
' If he is good enough for his hosts, he ought to be 
good enough for their guests,' thought Merton. 
' What a brute, what a fool I am ; I ought to go. I 
will go ! I ought not to take coffee after dinner, I 
know I ought not, and I smoke too much,' he added, 
and finally he went to breathe the air on the roof 

The night was deadly soft and still, a slight mist 
hid the furthest verges of the sea's horizon. Behind 
it, the summer lightning seemed like portals that 
opened and shut in the heavens, revealing a glory 
without form, and closing again. 

' I don't wonder that these Irish poets dreamed of 
Isles of Paradise out there : 

' Lands undiscoverable in the unheard-of West, 
Round which the strong stream of a sacred sea 
Runs without wind for ever,' 



342 THE DISENTANGLERS 

thought Merton. ' Chicago is the realisation of their 
dream. Hullo, there are the lights of a big steamer, 
and a very low one behind it ! Queer craft ! ' 

Merton watched the lights that crossed the sea, 
when either the haze deepened or the fainter light on 
the smaller vessel vanished, and the larger ship 
steamed on in a southerly direction. ' Mag^c boat 
of Bran ! ' thought Merton. He turned and entered 
the staircase to go back to his room. There was a 
lift, of course, but, equally of course, there was no- 
body to manage it. Merton, who had a lighted 
bedroom-candle in his hand, descended the spiral 
staircase ; at a turning he thought he saw, ' with the 
tail of his eye,' a plaid, draping a tall figure of a 
Highlander, disappear round the corner. Nobody 
in the castle wore the kilt except the piper, and he 
had not rooms in the observatory. Merton ran down 
as fast as he could, but he did not catch another view 
of the plaid and its wearer, or hear any footsteps. He 
went to the bottom of the staircase, opened the outer 
door, and looked forth. Nobody ! The electric light 
from the open door of his own room blazed across the 
landing on his return. All was perfectly still, and 
Merton remembered that he had not heard the foot- 
steps of the appearance. ' Was it Eachain ? ' he asked 
himself. * Do I sleep, do I dream?' 

He went back to bed and slumbered uneasily. 
He seemed to be awake in his room, in broad light, 
and to hear a slow drip, drip, on the floor. He looked 
up ; the roof was stained with a great dark splash of 
a crimson hue. He got out of bed, and touched the 
wet spot on the floor under the blotch on the ceiling. 



ADVENTURE OF THE CANADIAN HEIRESS 343 

His fingers were reddened with blood ! He woke at 
the horror of it : found himself in bed in the dark, 
pressed an electric knob, and looked at the ceiling. 
It was dry and white. * I certainly have been smok- 
ing too much lately/ thought Merton, and, switching 
off the light, he slumbered again, so soundly that he 
did not hear the piper playing round the house, or 
the man who brought his clothes and hot water, or 
the gong for breakfast 

When he did wake, he was surprised at the lateness 
of the hour, and dressed as rapidly as possible. ' I 
wonder if I was dreaming when I thought that I went 
out on the roof, and saw mountains and marvels,' said 
Merton to himself. ' A queer thing, the human mind,' 
he reflected sagely. It occurred to him to enter the 
smoking-room on his way downstairs. He routed 
two maids who perhaps had slept too late, and were 
hurriedly making the room tidy. The sun was beat- 
ing in at the window, and Merton noticed some tiny 
glittering points of white metallic light on the carpet 
near the new telegraphic apparatus. ' I don't believe 
these lazy Highland Maries have swept the room 
properly since the electric machine was put up,' 
Merton thought. He hastily seized, and took to his 
chamber, his book on old Irish literature, which was 
too clearly part of Blake's Celtic inspiration. Merton 
wanted no more quatrains, but he did mean to try to 
be civil. He then joined the party at breakfast ; he 
admitted that he had slept ill, but, when asked by 
Blake, disclaimed having seen Eachain of the Hairy 
Arm, and did not bore or bewilder the company with 
his dreams. 



344 THE DISENTANGLERS 

Miss Macraei in sabbatical raiment, was fresher 
than a rose and gay as a lark. Merton tried not 
to look at her ; he failed in this endeavour. 



//. Lost 

The day was Sunday, and Merton, who had a holy 
horror of news, rejoiced to think that the telegraphic 
machine would probably not tinkle its bell for twenty- 
four hours. This was not the ideal of the millionaire. 
Things happen, intelligence arrives from the limits of 
our vast and desirable empire, even on the Day of 
Rest But the electric bell was silent. Mr. Macrae, 
from patriotic motives, employed a Highland engineer 
and mechanician, so there was nothing to be got out 
of him in the way of work on the sabbath day. The 
millionaire himself did not quite understand how to 
work the thing. He went to the smoking-room where 
it dwelt and looked wistfully at it, but was afraid to 
try to call up his correspondents in London. As for 
the usual manipulator, Donald McDonald, he had 
started early for the distant Free Kirk. An ' Unionist' 
minister intended to try to preach himself in, and the 
majority of the congregation, being of the old Free 
Kirk rock, and averse to union with the United 
Presbyterians, intended to try to keep him out. 
They 'had a lad with the gift who would do the 
preaching fine,' and as there was no police-station 
within forty miles it seemed fairly long odds on the 
Free Kirk recalcitrants. However, there was a reso* 
lute minority of crofters on the side of the minister, 
and every chance of an ecclesiastical battle royal. 



ADVENTURE OF THE CANADIAN HEIRESS 345 

Accompanied by the stalker, two keepers, and all the 
gardeners, armed with staves, the engineer had early 
set out for the scene of brotherly amity, and Mr. 
Macrae had reluctantly to admit that he was cut off 
from his communications. 

Merton, who was with him in the smoking-room, 
mentally absolved the Highland housemaids. If they 
had not swept up the tiny glittering metallic points on 
the carpet before, they had done so now. Only two 
or three caught his eye. 

Mr. Macrae, avid of news, accommodated himself 
in an arm-chair with newspapers of two or three days 
old, from which he had already sucked the heart by 
aid of his infernal machine. The Budes and Blake, 
with Miss Macrae (an Anglican), had set off to walk 
to the Catholic chapel, some four miles away, for 
crofting opinion was resolute against driving on the 
Lord's Day. Merton, self-denying and resolved, did 
not accompany his lady; he read a novel, wrote 
letters, and felt desolate. All was peace, all breathed 
of the Sabbath calm. 

' Very odd there 's no call from the machine,' said 
Mr. Macrae anxiously. 

' It is Sunday,' said Merton. 

' Still, they might send us something.' 

'They scarcely favoured us last Sunday,' said 
Merton. 

' No, and now I think of it, not at all on the Sunday 
before,' said Mr. Macrae. ' I dare say it is all right' 

' Would a thunder-storm further south derange it?' 
asked Merton, adding, ' There was a lot of summer 
lightning last night.' 



346 THE DISENTANGLERS 

' That might be it ; these things have their tempers. 
But they are a great comfort I can't think how we 
ever did without them/ said Mr. Macrae, as if these 
things were common in every cottage. ' Wonderful 
thing, science ! ' he added, in an original way, and 
Merton, who privately detested science, admitted that 
it was so. 

'Shall we go to see the horses?' suggested Mr. 
Macrae, and they did go and stare, as is usual on 
Sunday in the country, at the hind>quarters of these 
noble animals. Merton strove to be as much in- 
terested as possible in Mr. Macrae's stories of his fleet 
American trotters. But his heart was otherwhere. 
*They will soon be an extinct species,' said Mr. 
Macrae. ' The motor has come to stay.' 

Merton was not feeling very well, he was afraid of 
a cigarette, Mr. Macrae's conversation was not bril* 
liant, and Merton still felt as if he were under the 
wrath, so well deserved, of his hostess. She did not 
usually go to the Catholic chapel ; to be sure, in the 
conditions prevailing at the Free Kirk place of wor- 
ship, she had no alternative if she would not abstain 
wholly from religious privileges. But Merton felt 
sure that she had really gone to comfort and console 
the injured feelings of Blake. Probably she would 
have had a little court of lordlings, Merton reflected 
(not that Mr. Macrae had any taste for them), but 
everybody knew that, what with the weather, and the 
crofters, and the grouse disease, the sport at Castle 
Skrae was remarkably bad. So the party was tiny, 
though a number of people were expected later, and 
Merton and the heiress had been on what, as he rue* 



ADVENTURE OF THE CANADIAN HEIRESS 347 

fully reflected, were very kind terms — rather more 
than kind, he had hoped, or feared, now and then. 
Merton saw that he had annoyed her, and thrown her, 
metaphorically speaking, into the arms of the Irish 
minstrel. All the better, perhaps, he thought, rue- 
fully. The poet was handsome enough to be one that 
' limners loved to paint, and ladies to look upon.' He 
generally took chaff well, and could give it, as well as 
take it, and there were hours when his sentiment and 
witchery had a chance with most women. ' But Lady 
Bude says there is nothing in it, and women usually 
know,* he reflected. Well, he must leave the girl, and 
save his self-respect. 

When nothing more in the way of pottering could 
be done at the stables, when its proprietor had ex- 
hausted the pleasure of staring at the balloon in its 
hall, and had fed the fowls, he walked with Merton 
down the avenue, above the skrunken burn that 
whispered among its ferns and alders, to meet the 
returning church-goers. The Budes came first, to- 
gether; they were still, they were always, honey- 
mooning. Mr. Macrae turned back with Lady Bude ; 
Merton walked with Bude, Blake and Miss Macrae 
were not yet in sight. He thought of walking on to 
meet them — but no, it must not be. 

' Blake owes you a rare candle, Merton,' said Bude, 
adding, ' A great deal may be done, or said, in a long 
walk by a young man with his advantages. And if 
you had not had your knife in him last night I do not 
think she would have accompanied us this morning to 
attend the ministrations of Father McColl. He 
preached in Gaelic.' 



348 THE DISENTANGLERS 

'That must have been edifying/ said Merton, 
wincing. 

' The eflfect, when one does not know the language, 
and is within six feet of an energetic Celt in the 
pulpit, is rather odd/ said Bude. * But you have put 
your foot in it, not a doubt of that/ 

This appeared only too probable. The laggards 
arrived late for luncheon, and after luncheon Miss 
Macrae allowed Blake to read his manuscript poems 
to her in the hall, and to discuss the prospects of the 
Celtic drama. Afterwards, fearing to hurt the reli- 
gious sentiments of the Highland servants by playing 
ping-pong on Sunday in the hall, she instructed him 
elsewhere, and clandestinely, in that pastime till the 
hour of tea arrived. 

Merton did not appear at the tea-table. Tired of 
this Castle of Indolence, loathing Blake, afraid of more 
talk with Lady Bude, eating his own heart, he had 
started alone after luncheon for a long walk round 
the loch. The day had darkened, and was deadly 
still ; the water was like a mirror of leaden hue ; the 
air heavy and sulphurous. 

These atmospheric phenomena did not gladden the 
heart of Merton. He knew that rain was coming, but 
he would not be with her by the foaming stream, or on 
the black waves of the loch. Climbing to the top of 
the hill, he felt sure that a storm was at hand. On the 
east, far away, Clibrig, and Suilvean of the double peak, 
and the round top of Ben More, stood shadowy above 
the plain against the lurid light. Over the sea hung 
' the ragged rims of thunder * far away, veiling in thin 
shadow the outermost isles, whose mountain crests 



ADVENTURE OF THE CANADIAN HEIRESS 349 

looked dark as indigo. A few hot heavy drops of rain 
were falling as Merton began to descend. He was 
soaked to the skin when he reached the door of the 
observatory, and rushed up stairs to dress for dinner. 
A covered way led from the observatory to the Castle, 
so that he did not get drenched again on his return, 
which he accomplished punctually as the gong for 
dinner sounded. 

In the drawing-room were the Budes, and Mr. 
Macrae was nervously pacing the length and breadth 
of the room. 

* They must have taken refuge from the rain some- 
where,* Lady Bude was saying, and * they ' were obvi- 
ously Blake and the daughter of the house. Where 
were they ? Merton's heart sank with a foolish 
foreboding. 

* I know,' the lady went on, * that they were only 
going down to the cove — where you and I were yes- 
terday evening, Mr. Merton. It is no distance.' 

' A mile and a half is a good deal in this weather, 
said Merton, * and there is no cottage on this side of 
the sea loch. But they must have taken shelter,' he 
added ; he must not seem anxious. 

At this moment came a flash of lightning, followed 
by a crack like that of a cosmic whip-lash, and a long 
reverberating roar of thunder. 

' It is most foolish to have stayed out so late,' said 
Mr. Macrae. ' Any one could see that a storm was 
coming. I told them so, I am really annoyed.' 

Every one was silent, the rain fell straight and 
steady, the gravel in front of the window was a 
series of little lakes, pale and chill in the wan twilight. 



3SO THE DISENTANGLERS 

' I really think I must send a couple of men down 
with cloaks and umbrellas/ said the nervous father, 
pressing an electric knob. 

The butler appeared. 

' Are Donald and Sandy and Murdoch about ? ' 
asked Mr. Macrae. 

* Not returned from church, sir ; ' said the butler. 

' There was likely to be a row at the Free Kirk.* 
said Mr. Macrae, absently. 

' You must go yourself, Benson, with Archibald and 
James. Take cloaks and umbrellas, and hurry down 
towards the cove. Mr. Blake and Miss Macrae have 
probably found shelter on the way somewhere.' 

The butler answered, * Yes, sir ; * but he cannot have 
been very well pleased with his errand. Merton 
wanted to offer to go, anything to be occupied ; but 
Bude said nothing, and so Merton did not speak. 

The four in the drawing-room sat chatting nerv- 
ously : ' There was nothing of course to be anxious 
about/ they told each other. The bolt of heaven 
never strikes the daughters of millionaires ; Miss 
Macrae was indifferent to a wetting, and nobody cared 
tremulously about Blake. Indeed the words 'con- 
found the fellow' were in the minds of the three men. 

The evening darkened rapidly, the minutes lagged 
by, the clock chimed the half-hour, three-quarters, 
nine o'clock. 

Mr. Macrae was manifestly growing more and more 
nervous, Merton forgot to grow more and more hungry. 
His tongue felt dry and hard ; he was afraid of he knew 
not what, but he bravely tried to make talk with Lady 
Bude. 



ADVENTURE OF THE CANADIAN HEIRESS 351 

The door opened, letting the blaze of electric light 
from the hall into the darkling room. They all 
turned eagerly towards the door. It was only one 
of the servants. Merton's heart felt like lead. ' Mr. 
Benson has returned, sir; he would be glad if he 
might speak to you for a moment.' 

* Where is he?' asked Mr. Macrae. 

* At the outer door, sir, in the porch. He is very 
wet.' 

Mr. Macrae went out; the others found little to say 
to each other. 

' Very awkward,' muttered Bude. ' They cannot 
have been climbing the cliffs, surely.' 

* The bridge is far above the highest water-mark of 
the burn, in case they crossed the water,' said Merton. 

Lady Bude was silent. 

Mr. Macrae returned. ' Benson has come back,' he 
said, ' to say that he can find no trace of them. The 
other men are still searching.' 

' Can they have had themselves ferried across the 
sea loch to the village opposite ? ' asked Merton. 

' Emmiline had not the key of our boat,' said Mr. 
Macrae, * I have made sure of that ; and not a man 
in the village would launch a boat on Sunday.' 

' We must go and help to search for them,' said 
Merton; he only wished to be doing something, 
anything. 

' I shall not be a minute in changing my dress.' 

Bude also volunteered, and in a few minutes, having 
drunk a glass of wine and eaten a crust of bread, they 
and Mr. Macrae were hurrying towards the cove. The 
storm was passing ; by the time when they reached 



352 THE DISENTANGLERS 

the sea-side there were rifts of clear light in the sky 
above them. They had walked rapidly and silently, 
the swollen stream roaring beneath them. It had 
rained torrents in the hills. There was nothing to be 
said, but the mind of each man was busy with the 
gloomiest conjectures. These had to be far-fetched, 
for in a country so thinly peopled, and so honest and 
friendly, within a couple of miles at most from home, 
on a Sunday evening, what conceivable harm could 
befall a man and a maid? 

'Can we trust the man?' was in Merton's mind. 
* If they have been ferried across to the village, they 
would have set out to return before now,' he said 
aloud ; but there was no boat on the faint silver of the 
sea loch. ' The cliffs are the likeliest place for an ac- 
cident, if there was an accident,' he considered, with a 
pang. The cliffs might have tempted the light-footed 
girl. In fancy he saw her huddled, a ghastly heap» 
the faint wind fluttering the folds of her dress, at the 
bottom of the rocks. She had been wearing a long 
skirt, not her wont in the Highlands; it would be 
dangerous to climb in that; she might have forgotten, 
climbed, and caught her foot, and fallen. 

' Blake may have snatched at her, and been dragged 
down with her,' Merton thought. All the horrid fan- 
cies of keen anxiety flitted across his mind's eye. He 
paused, and made an effort over himself. There must 
be some other harmless explanation, an adventure to 
laugh at — for Blake and the girl. Poor comfort, that ! 

The men who had been searching were scattered 
about the sides of the cove, and, distinguishing the 
new-comers, gathered towards them. 



ADVENTURE OF THE CANADIAN HEIRESS 353 

» 

* No/ they said, ' they had found nothing except a 
little book that seemed to belong to Mr. Blake/ 

It had been discovered near the place where Mer- 
ton and Lady Bude were sitting on the previous 
evening. When found it was lying open, face down- 
wards. In the faint light Merton could see that the 
book was full of manuscript poems, the lines all 
blotted and run together by the tropical rain. He 
thrust it into the pocket of his ulster. 

Merton took the most intelligent of the gillies aside. 
' Show me where you have searched,' he said. The 
man pointed to the shores of the cove ; they had also 
examined the banks of the bum, and under all the 
trees, clearly fearing that the lost pair might have 
been lightning-struck, like the nymph and swain in 
Pope's poem. 'You have not searched the cliffs?' 
asked Merton. 

* No, sir,' said the man. 

Merton then went to Mr. Macrae, and suggested 
that the boat should be sent across the sea ferry, to 
try if anything could be learned in the village. Mr. 
Macrae agreed, and himself went in the boat, which 
was presently unmoored, and pulled by two gillies 
across the loch, that ran like a river with the outgoing 
tide. 

Merton and Bude began to search the cliflfs; Mer- 
ton could hear the hoarse pumping of his own heart. 
The cliff's base was deep in flags and bracken, then 
the rocks began climbing to the foot of the perpen- 
dicular basaltic crag. The sky, fortunately, was 
now clear in the west, and lent a wan light to the 
seekers. Merton had almost reached the base of the 

23 



354 THE DISENTANGLERS 

cliflfy when, in the deep bracken, he stumbled over 
something soft. He stooped and held back the tall 
fronds of bracken. 

It was the body of a man ; the body did not stir. 
Merton glanced to see the face, but the face was bent 
round, leaning half on the earth. It was Blake. 
Merton's guess seemed true. They had fallen from 
the cliffs ! But where was that other body? Merton 
yelled to Bude. Blake seemed dead or insensible. 

Merton (he was ashamed of it presently) left the 
body of Blake alone ; he plunged wildly in and out 
of the bracken, still shouting to Bude, and looking 
for that which he feared to find. She could not be 
far off. He stumbled over rocks, into rabbit holes, 
he dived among the soaked bracken. Below and 
around he hunted, feverishly panting, then he set his 
face to the sheer cliff, to climb ; she might be lying 
on some higher ledge, the shadow on the rocks was 
dark. At this moment Bude hailed him. 

• Come down ! ' he cried, ' she cannot be there ! ' 

' Why not? ' he gasped, arriving at the side of Bude» 
who was stooping, with a lantern in his hand, over 
the body of Blake, which faintly stirred. 

' Look ! ' said Bude, lowering the lantern. 

Then Merton saw that Blake's hands were bound 
down beside his body, and that the cords were fastened 
by pegs to the ground. His feet were fastened in 
the same way, and his mouth was stuffed full of wet 
seaweed. Bude pulled out the improvised gag, cut 
the ropes, turned the face upwards, and carefully 
dropped a little whisky from his flask into the mouth. 
Blake opened his eyes. 



ADVENTURE OF THE CANADIAN HEIRESS 355 

' Where are my poems ? ' he asked. 

'Where is Miss Macrae?' shrieked Merton in 
agony. 

' Damn the midges/ said Blake (his face was hardly 
recognisable from their bites). ' Oh, damn them 
all ! ' He had fainted again. 

' She has been carried off,' groaned Merton. Bude 
and he did all that they knew for poor Blake. They 
rubbed his ankles and wrists, they administered more 
whisky, and finally got him to sit up. He scratched 
his hands over his face and moaned, but at last he 
recovered full consciousness. No sense could be 
extracted from him, and, as the boat was now visible 
on its homeward track, Bude and Merton carried him 
down to the cove, anxiously waiting Mr. Macrae. 

He leaped ashore. 

' Have you heard anything? ' asked Bude. 

* They saw a boat on the loch about seven o'clock,' 
said Mr. Macrae, ' coming from the head of it, touch- 
ing here, and then pulling west, round the cliff. They 
thought the crew Sabbath-breakers from the lodge at 
Alt Garbh. What's that,' he cried, at last seeing 
Blake, who lay supported against a rock, his eyes 
shut. 

Merton rapidly explained. 

* It is as I thought,' said Mr. Macrae resolutely. 
• I knew it from the first. They have kidnapped her 
for a ransom. Let us go home.' 

Merton and Bude were silent; they, too, had 
guessed, as soon as they discovered Blake. The girl 
was her father's very life, and they admired his reso- 
lution, his silence. A gate was taken from its hinges, 



35 6 THE DISENTANGLERS 

cloaks were strewn on it, and Blake was laid on this 
ambulance. 

Merton ventured to speak. 

' May I take your boat, sir, across to the ferry, and 
send the fishermen from the village to search each 
end of the loch on their side ? It is after midnight/ 
he added grimly. ' They will not refuse to go ; it is 
Monday.' 

*I will accompany them,' said Bude, 'with your 
leave, Mr. Macrae. Merton can search our side 
of the loch, he can borrow another boat at the village 
in addition to yours. You, at the Castle, can organise 
the measures for to-morrow.* 

' Thank you both,' said Mr. Macrae. * I should 
have thought of that. Thank you, Mr. Merton, for 
the idea. I am a little dazed. There is the key 
of the boat' 

Merton snatched it, and ran, followed by Bude and 
four gillies, to the little pier where the boat was 
moored. He must be doing something for her, or go 
mad. The six men crowded into the boat, and pulled 
swiftly away, Merton taking the stroke oar. Mean- 
while Blake was carried by four gillies towards the 
Castle, the men talking low to each other in Gaelic. 
Mr. Macrae walked silently in front. 

Such was the mournful procession that Lady Bude 
ran out to meet She passed Mr. Macrae, whose &ce 
was set with an expression of deadly rage, and looked 
for Bude. He was not there, a gillie told her what 
they knew, and, with a convulsive sob, she followed 
Mr. Macrae into the Castle. 

' Mr. Blake must be taken to his room,' said Mr. 



ADVENTURE OF THE CANADIAN HEIRESS 357 

Macrae. ' Benson, bring something to eat and drink. 
Lady Bude, I deeply regret that this thing should have 
troubled your stay with me. She has been carried 
off, Mr. Blake has been rendered unconscious; your 
husband and Mr. Merton are trying nobly to find the 
track of the miscreants. You will excuse me, I must 
see to Mr. Blake.' 

Mr. Macrae rose, bowed, and went out. He saw 
Blake carried to a bathroom in the observatory ; they 
undressed him and put him in the hot water. Then 
they put him to bed, and brought him wine and food. 
He drank the wine eagerly. 

' We were set on suddenly from behind by fellows 
from a boat,' he said. ' We saw them land and go up 
from the cove ; they took us in the rear : they felled 
me and pegged me out. Have you my poems? ' 

' Mr. Merton has the poems,' said Mr. Macrae. 
* What became of my daughter? ' 

' I don't know, I was unconscious.' 

* What kind of boat was it? ' 

' An ordinary coble, a country boat.' 

'What kind of looking men were they?' 

' Rough fellows with beards. I only saw them 
when they first passed us at some distance. Oh, my 
head ! Oh damn, how these bites do sting I Get me 
some ammonia; you'll find it in a bottle on the 
dressing-table.' 

Mr. Macrae brought him the bottle and a handker- 
chief ' That is all you know? ' he asked. 

But Blake was babbling some confusion of verse 
and prose : his wits were wandering. 

Mr. Macrae turned from him, and bade one of the 



35 8 THE DISENTANGLERS 

men watch him. He himself passed downstairs and 
into the hall, where Lady Bude was standing at the 
window, gazing to the north. 

' Indeed you must not watch, Lady Bude,' said the 
millionaire. 'Let me persuade you to take some- 
thing and go to bed. I forget myself; I do not believe 
that you have dined.' He himself sat down at the 
table, he ate and drank, and induced Lady Bude to 
join him. ' Now, do let me persuade you to go back 
and to try to sleep,' said Mr. Macrae gently. ' Your 
husband is well accompanied.' 

' It is not for him that I am afraid,' said the lady, 
who was in tears. 

*I must arrange for the day's work,* said the 
millionaire, and Lady Bude sighed and left him. 

' First,' he said aloud, ' we must get the doctor from 
Lairg to see Blake. Over forty miles.' He rang. 
' Benson,' he said to the butler, ' order the tandem 
for seven. The yacht to have steam up at the same 
hour. Breakfast at half-past six.' 

The millionaire then went to his own study, where 
he sat lost in thought. Morning had come before 
the sound of voices below informed him that Bude 
and Merton had returned. He hurried down ; their 
faces told him all. ' Nothing? ' he asked calmly. 

Nothing ! They had rowed along the loch sides, 
touching at every cottage and landing-place. They 
had learned nothing. He explained his ideas for 
the day. 

* If you will allow me to go in the yacht, I can 
telegraph from Lochinver in all directions to the 
police,' said Bude. 



ADVENTURE OF THE CANADIAN HEIRESS 359 

' We can use the wireless thing/ said Mr. Macrae. 
' But if you would be so good, you could at least see 
the local police, and if anything occurred to you, 
telegraph in the ordinary way.* 

' Right/ said Bude, ' I shall now take a bath.' 

' You will stay with me, Mr. Merton,' said Mr. 
Macrae. 

'It is a dreadful country for men in our position,' 
said Merton, for the sake of saying something. 
* Police and everything so remote.' 

* It gave them their chance ; they have waited for it 
long enough, I dare say. Have you any ideas ? ' 

* They must have a steamer somewhere.* 

* That is why I have ordered the balloon, to re- 
connoitre the sea from,' said Mr. Macrae. * But they 
have had all the night to escape in. I think they 
will take her to America, to some rascally southern 
republic, probably.' 

' I have thought of the outer islands,' said Merton, 
' out behind the Lewis and the Long Island/ 

' We shall have them searched,* said Mr. Macrae. 
' I can think of no more at present, and you are 
tired.' 

Merton had slept ill and strangely on the night of 
Saturday ; on Sunday night, of course, he had never 
lain down. Unshaven, dirty, with haggard eyes, he 
looked as wretched as he felt. 

' I shall have a bath, and then please employ me, 
it does not matter on what, as long as I am at work 
for — you,' said Merton. He had nearly said * for 
her/ 

Mr. Macrae looked at him rather curiously. * You 



36o THE DISENTANGLERS 

are dying of fatigue/ he said. ' All your ideas have 
been excellent, but I cannot let you kill yourself. 
Ideas are what I want. You must stay with me to- 
day: I shall be communicating with London and 
other centres by the Giambresi machine ; I shall need 
your advice, your suggestions. Now, do go to bed : 
you shall be called if you are needed.' 

He wrung Merton's hand, and Merton crept up to 
his bedroom. He took a bath, turned in, and was 
wrapped in all the blessedness of sleep. 

Before five o'clock the house was astir. Bude, in 
the yacht, steamed down the coast, touching at 
Lochinver, and wherever there seemed a faint hope 
of finding intelligence. But he learned nothing. 
Yachts and other vessels came and went (on Sundays^ 
of course, more seldom), and if the heiress had been 
taken straight to sea, northwards or west, round the 
Butt of Lewis, by night, there could be no chance of 
news of her. Returning, Bude learned that the local 
search parties had found nothing but the black ashes 
of a burned boat in a creek on the south side of the 
cliffs. There the captors of Miss Macrae must have 
touched, burned their coble, and taken to some 
larger and fleeter vessel. But no such vessel had 
been seen by shepherd, fisher, keeper, or gillie. The 
grooms arrived from Lairg, in the tandem, with the 
doctor and a rural policeman. Bude had telegraphed 
to Scotland Yard from Lochinver for detectives, and 
to Glasgow, Oban, Tobermory, Salen, in fact to every 
place he thought likely, with minute particulars of 
Miss Macrae's appearance and dress. All this 
Merton learned from Bude, when, long after luncheon 



ADVENTURE OF THE CANADIAN HEIRESS 361 

time, our hero awoke suddenly, refreshed in body, 
but with the ghastly blank of misery and doubt before 
the eyes of his mind. 

*I wired,' said Bude, 'on the off chance that 
yesterday's storm might have deranged the wireless 
machine, and, by Jove, it is lucky I did. The wire- 
less machine won't work, not a word of message has 
come through; it is jammed or something. I met 
Donald Macdonald, who told me.' 
' Have you seen our host yet? ' 
' No,' said Bude, ' I was just going to him.' 
They found the millionaire seated at a table, his 
head in his hands. On their approach he roused 
himself. 

' Any news ? ' he asked Bude, who shook his head. 
He explained how he had himself sent various 
telegrams, and Mr. Macrae thanked him. 

* You did well,' he said. * Some electric disturbance 
has cut us off from our London correspondent. We 
sent messages in the usual way, but there has been 
no reply. You sent to Scotland Yard for detectives, 
I think you said ? ' 

' I did.' 

* But, unluckily, what can London detectives do in 
a country like this? ' said Mr. Macrae. 

' I told them to send one who had the Gaelic,' said 
Bude. 

'It was well thought of,' said Mr. Macrae, 'but 
this was no local job. Every man for miles round has 
been examined, and accounted for.' 

*I hope you have slept well, Mr. Merton?' he 
asked. 



36a THE DISENTANGLERS 

' Excellently. Can you not put me on some work 
if it is only to copy telegraphic despatches? But» 
by the way, how is Blake ? ' 

' The doctor is still with him/ said Mr. Macrae ; ' a 
case of concussion of the brain, he says it is. But 
you go out and take the air, you must be careful of 
yourself.' 

Bude remained with the millionaire, Merton saun- 
tered out to look at the river : running water drew 
him like a magnet. By the side of the stream, on a 
woodland path, he met Lady Bude. She took his 
hand silently in her right, and patted it with her left. 
Merton turned his head away. 

* What can I say to you ? ' she asked. ' Oh, this is 
too horrible, too cruel.' 

'If I had listened to you and not irritated her I 
might have been with her, not Blake,' said Merton, 
with keen self-respect. 

' I don't quite see that you would be any the better 
for concussion of the brain,' said Lady Bude, smiling. 
' Oh, Mr. Merton, you must find her, I know how 
you have worked already. You must rescue her. 
Consider, this is your chance, this is your opportunity 
to do something great. Take courage ! ' 

Merton answered, with a rather watery smile, ' If I 
had Logan with me.' 

' With or without Lord Fastcastle, you must do it i * 
said Lady Bude. 

They saw Mr. Macrae approaching them deep in 
thought and advanced to meet him. 

' Mr. Macrae,' asked Lady Bude suddenly, * have 
you had Donald with you long ? ' 



ADVENTURE OF THE CANADIAN HEIRESS 363 

' Ever since he was a lad in Canada/ answered the 
millionaire. ' I have every confidence in Donald's 
ability^ and he was for half a year with Gianesi and 
Giambresi, learning to work their system.' 

Donald's honesty, it was clear, he never dreamed 
of suspecting. Merton blushed, as he remembered 
that a doubt as to whether the engineer had been 
' got at ' had occurred to his own mind. For a 
heavy bribe (Merton had fancied) Donald might have 
been induced, perhaps by some Stock Exchange 
operator, to tamper with the wireless centre of 
communication. But, from Mr. Macrae's perfect 
confidence, he felt obliged to drop this attractive 
hypothesis. 

They dined at the usual hour, and not long afler 
dinner Lady Bude said good-night, while her lord, 
who was very tired, soon followed her example. 
Merton and the millionaire paid a visit to Blake, 
whom they found asleep, and the doctor^ having 
taken supper and accepted an invitation to stay all 
night, joined the two other men in the smoking- 
room. In answer to inquiries about the patient. Dr. 
MacTavish said, ' It 's jist concussion, slight con- 
cussion, and nervous shoke. No that muckle 
the maiter wi' him but a clour on the hairnspan, 
and midge bites, forbye the disagreeableness o' 
being clamped doon for a wheen hours in a wat 
tussock o' bracken.' 

This diagnosis, though not perfectly intelligible to 
Merton, seemed to reassure Mr. Macrae. 

' He 's a bit concctty, the chiel,' added the worthy 
physician, ' and it may be a day or twa or he judges 



364 THE DISENTANGLERS 

he can leave his bed. Jist nervous collapse. But, 
bless my soul, what 's thon ? ' 

' Thon ' had brought Mr. Macrae to his feet with a 
bound. It was the thrill of the electric bell which 
preluded to communications from the wireless com- 
municator! The instrument began to tick, and to 
emit its inscribed tape. 

'Thank heaven/ cried the millionaire, 'now we 
shall have light on this mystery.' He read the mes- 
sage, stamped his foot with an awful execration, and 
then, recovering himself, handed the document to 
Merton. ' The message is a disgusting practical joke,' 
he said. ' Some one at the central agency is playing 
tricks with the instrument' 

' Am I to read the message aloud ? ' asked Merton. 

It was rather a difficult question, for the doctor 
was a perfect stranger to all present, and the matters 
involved were of an intimate delicacy, affecting the 
most sacred domestic relations. 

* Dr. MacTavish,' said Mr. Macrae, ' speaking as 
Highlander to Highlander, these are circumstances, 
are they not, under the seal of professional confi- 
dence ? ' 

The big doctor rose to his feet. 

* They are, sir, but, Mr. Macrae, I am a married 
man. This sad business of yours, I say it with 
sorrow, will be the talk of the world to-morrow, as it 
is of the country side to-day. If you will excuse me, 
I would rather know nothing, and be able to tell 
nothing, so I '11 take my pipe outside with me.' 

' Not alone, don't go alone, Dr. MacTavish,' said 
Merton ; * Mr. Macrae will need his telegraphic op- 



ADVENTURE OF THE CANADIAN HEIRESS 365 

erator probably. I^t me play you a hundred up at 
billiards.' 

The doctor liked nothing better; soon the balls 
were rattling, while the millionaire was closeted alone 
with Donald Macdonald and the wireless thing. 

After one game, of which he was the winner, the 
doctor, with much delicacy, asked leave to go to bed. 
Merton conducted him to his room, and, returning, 
was hailed by Mr. Macrae. 

* Here is the pleasant result of our communications,' 
he said, reading aloud the message which he had first 
received. 

* The Seven Hunters. August 9, 7.47 p.m. 

* Do not be anxious about Miss Macrae. She is in per- 
fect health, and accompanied by three chaperons accus- 
tomed to move in the first circles. The one question is 
How Much? Sorry to be abrupt, but the sooner the affair 
is satisfactorily concluded the better. A reply through 
your Gianesi machine will reach us, and will meet with 
prompt attention.' 

' A practical joke,' said Merton. ' The melancholy 
news has reached town through Bude*s telegrams, 
and somebody at the depdt is playing tricks with the 
instrument.' 

' I have used the instrument to communicate that 
opinion to the manufacturers,' said Mr. Macrae, ' but 
I have had no reply.' 

* What does the jester mean by heading his com- 
munication " The Seven Hunters " ? ' asked Merton. 

' The name of a real or imaginary public-house, I 
suppose,' said Mr. Macrae. 



366 THE DISENTANGLERS 

At this moment the electric bell gave its signal, 
and the tape began to exude. Mr. Macrae read the 
message aloud ; it ran thus : 

' No good wiring to Gianesi and Giambresi at head- 
quarters. You are hitched on to us, and to nobody 
else. Better climb down. What are your terms? ' 

' This is infuriating/ said Mr. Macrae. ' It mtist be 
a practical joke, but how to reach the operators?' 

' Let me wire to-morrow by the old-fashioned way/ 
said Merton ; ' I hear that one need not go to Lairg 
to wire. One can do that from Inchnadampf, much 
nearer. That is quicker than steaming to Loch 
Inver.* 

'Thank you very much, Mr. Merton; I must be 
here myself. You had better take the motor — 
trouble dazes a man — I forgot the motor when I 
ordered the tandem this morning.' 

* Very good,' said Merton. * At what hour shall I 
start?' 

* We all need rest ; let us say at ten o'clock.' 

* All right,' replied Merton. * Now do, pray, try to 
get a good night of sleep.' 

Mr. Macrae smiled wanly : ' I mean to force my- 
self to read Emma, by Miss Austen, till the desired 
effect is produced.' 

Merton went to bed, marvelling at the self-com- 
mand of the millionaire. He himself slept ill, ab- 
sorbed in regret and darkling conjecture. 

After writing out several telegrams for Merton to 
carry, the smitten victim of enormous opulence sought 
repose. But how vainly! Between him and the 
pages which report the prosings of Miss Bates and 



ADVENTURE OF THE CANADIAN HEIRESS 367 

Mr. Woodhouse intruded visions of his daughter, a 
captive, perhaps crossing the Atlantic, perhaps hid- 
den, who knew, in a shieling or a cavern in the un- 
trodden wastes of Assynt or of Lord Reay's country. 
At last these appearances were merged in sleep. 



///. Logan to the Rescue ! 

As Merton sped on the motor next day to the 
nearest telegraph station, with Mr. Macrae's sheaf of 
despatches. Dr. MacTavish found him a very dull 
companion. He named the lochs and hills, Quinag, 
Suilvean, Ben M6r, he dwelt on the merits of the 
trout in the lochs; he showed the melancholy im- 
provements of the old Duke ; he spoke of duchesses 
and of crofters, of anglers and tourists; he pointed to 
the ruined castle of the man who sold the great Mont- 
rose — or did not sell him. Merton was irresponsive, 
trying to think. What was this mystery? Why did 
the wireless machine bring no response from its head- 
quarters ; or how could practical jokers have intruded 
into the secret chambers of Messrs. Gianesi and 
Giambresi ? These dreams or visions of his own on 
the night before Miss Macrae was taken — were they 
wholly due to tobacco arid the liver? 

' I thought I was awake,' said Merton to himself, 
' when I was only dreaming about the crimson blot 
on the ceiling. Was I asleep when I saw the tartans 
go down the stairs ? I used to walk in my sleep as a 
boy. It is very queer ! ' 

* Frae the top o' Ben M6r,' the doctor was saying, 



368 THE DISENTANGLERS 

' on a fine day, they tell me, with a glass you can 
pick up " The Seven Hunters." * 

'Eh, what? I beg your pardon, I am so confused 
by this wretched affair. What did you say you can 
pick up ? * 

' Just " The Seven Hunters," * said the doctor 
rather sulkily. 

'And what are " The Seven Hunters "? ' 

' Just seven wee sma* islandies ahint the Butt of 
Lewis. The maps ca' them the Flanan Islands.' 

Merton's heart gave a thump. The first message 
from the Gianesi invention was dated ' The Seven 
Hunters.' Here was a clue. 

' Are the islands inhabited ? ' asked Merton. 

'Just wi' wild goats, and, maybe, fishers drying 
their fish. And three men in a lighthouse on one of 
them/ said the doctor. 

They now rushed up to the hotel and telegraph 
ofRce of Inchnadampf. The doctor, after visiting the 
bar, went on in the motor to Lairg ; it was to return 
for Merton, who had business enough on hand in 
sending the despatches. He was thinking over ' The 
Seven Hunters.' It might be, probably was, a blind, 
or the kidnappers, having touched there, might have 
departed in any direction — to Iceland, for what he 
knew. But the name, ' the Seven Hunters,' was not 
likely to have been invented by a practical joker in 
London. If not, the conspirators had really captured 
and kept to themselves Mr. Macrae's line of wireless 
communications. How could that have been done? 
Merton bitterly regretted that his general information 
did not include electrical science. 



ADVENTURE OF THE CANADIAN HEIRESS 369 

However, he had first to send the despatches. In 
one Mr. Macrae informed Gianesi and Giambresi of 
the condition of their instrument, and bade them send 
another at once with a skilled operator, and to look 
out for probable tamperers in their own establish- 
ment. This despatch was in a cypher which before 
he got the new invention, and while he used the old 
wires, Mr. Macrae had arranged with the electricians. 
The words of the despatch were, therefore, peculiar, 
and the Highland lass who operated, a girl of great 
beauty and modesty, at first declined to transmit the 
message. 

' It *s maybe no proper, for a' that I ken,' she urged, 
and only by invoking a local person of authority, and 
using the name of Mr. Macrae very freely, could Mer- 
ton obtain the transmission of the despatch. 

In another document Mr. Macrae ordered ' more 
motors ' and a dozen bicycles, as the Nabob of old 
ordered 'more curricles.* He also telegraphed to 
the Home Office, the Admiralty, the Hereditary 
Lord High Admiral of the West Coast, to Messrs. 
McBrain, of the steamers, and to every one who 
might have any access to the control of marine 
police or information. He wired to the police at 
New York, bidding them warn all American sta- 
tions, and to the leading New York newspapers, 
knowing the energy and inquiring, if imaginative, 
character of their reporters. Bude ought to have 
done all this on the previous day, but Bude's ideas 
were limited. Nothing, however, was lost, as Amer- 
ica is not reached in forty-eight hours. The million- 
aire instructed Scotland Yard to warn all foreign 

24 



370 THE DISENT ANGLERS 

ports, and left them carte-blancJu as to the offer of a 
reward for the discovery of his missing daughter. 
He also put off all the guests whom he had been ex- 
pecting at Castle Skrae. 

Merton was amazed at the energy and intelligence 
of a paternal mind smitten by sudden grief. Mr. 
Macrae had even telegraphed to every London 
newspaper, and to the leading Scottish and provincial 
journals, ' No Interviewers need Apply.' Several hours 
were spent, as may be imagined, in getting off these 
despatches from a Highland rural office, and Merton 
tried to reward the fair operator. But she declined to 
accept a present for doing her duty, and expressed 
lively sympathy for the poor young lady who was 
lost. In a few days a diamond-studded watch and 
chain arrived for Miss MacTurk. 

Merton himself wired to Logan, imploring him, in 
the name of friendship, to abandon all engagements, 
and come to Inchnadampf. Where kidnapping was 
concerned he knew that Logan must be interested, 
and might be useful ; but, of course, he could not 
invite him to Castle Skrae. Meanwhile he secured 
rooms for Logan at the excellent inn. Lady Fast- 
castle, he knew, was in England, brooding over her 
first-born, the Master of Fastcastle. 

Before these duties were performed the motor re- 
turned from Lairg, bearing the two London detec- 
tives, one disguised as a gillie (he was the detective 
who had the Gaelic), the other as a clergyman of the 
Church of England. To Merton he whispered that 
he was to be an early friend of Mr. Macrae, come to 
comfort him on the first news of his disaster. As to 



ADVENTURE OF THE CANADIAN HEIRESS 371 

the other, the gillie, Mr. Macrae was known to have 
been in want of an assistant to the stalker, and 
Duncan Mackay (of Scotland Yard) had accepted the 
situation. Merton approved of these arrangements ; 
they were such as he would himself have suggested. 

* But I don't see what we can do, sir,' said the cleri- 
cal detective (the Rev. Mr. Williams), 'except per- 
haps find out if it was a put up thing from within.' 

Merton gave him a succinct sketch of the events, 
and he could see that Mr. Williams already suspected 
Donald Macdonald, the engineer. Merton, Mr. Wil- 
liams, and the driver now got into the motor, and 
were followed by the gillie-detective and a man to 
drive in a dogcart hired from the inn. Merton or- 
dered all answers to telegrams to be sent by boys on 
bicycles. 

It was late ere he returned to Castle Skrae. There 
nothing of importance had occurred, except the 
arrival of more messages from the wireless machine. 
They insisted that Miss Macrae was in perfect health, 
but implored the millionaire to settle instantly, lest 
anxiety for a father's grief should undermine her 
constitution. 

Mr. Williams had a long interview with Mr. Macrae. 
It was arranged that he should read family prayers in 
the morning and evening. He left The Church 
Quarterly Review and numbers of The Expositor^ The 
Guardian^ and The Pilot in the hall with his great 
coat, and on the whole his entry was very well 
staged. Duncan Mackay occupied a room at the 
keeper's, who had only eight children. 

Mr. Williams asked if he might see Mr. Blake ; he 



37 a THE DISENTANGLERS 

could impart religious consolation. Merton carried 
this message, in answer to which Blake, who was in 
bed very sulky and sleepy, merely replied, ' Kick out 
the hell-hound/ 

Merton was obliged to soften this rude message, 
saying that unfortunately Mr. Blake was of the older 
faith, though he had expressed no wish for the minis- 
trations of Father McColl. 

On hearing this Mr. Williams merely sighed, as the 
Budes were present. He had been informed as to 
their tenets, and had even expressed a desire to 
labour for their enlightenment, by way of giving 
local colour. He had, he said, some stirring Protes- 
tant tracts among his clerical properties. Mr. Macrae, 
however, had gently curbed this zeal, so on hearing 
of Blake's religious beliefs the sigh of Mr. Williams 
was delicately subdued. 

Dinner-time arrived. Blake did not appear; the 
butler said that he supported existence solely on 
dried toast and milk and soda-water. He was one of 
the people who keep a private clinical thermometer, 
and he sent the bulletin that his temperature was 
103. He hoped to come downstairs to-morrow. Mr. 
Williams gave the party some news of the outer world. 
He had brought the Scotsman, and Mr. Macrae had 
the gloomy satisfaction of reading a wildly inaccurate 
report of his misfortune. Correct news had not 
reached the press, but deep sympathy was expressed. 
The melancholy party soon broke up, Mr. Williams 
conducting family prayers with much unction, after 
the Budes had withdrawn. 

In a private interview with the millionaire Merton 



ADVENTURE OF THE CANADIAN HEIRESS 373 

told him how he had discovered the real meaning of 
'The Seven Hunters/ whence the first telegram of 
the kidnappers was dated. Neither man thought the 
circumstance very important 

'They would hardly have ventured to name the 
islands if they had any idea of staying there/ the 
millionaire said, 'besides any heartless jester could 
find the name on a map/ 

This was obvious, but as Lady Bude was much to 
be pitied, alone, in the circumstances, Mr. Macrae 
determined to send her and Bude on the yacht, the 
Flora Macdonaldy to cruise round the Butt of Lewis 
and examine the islets. Both Bude and his wife were 
devoted to yachting, and the isles might yield some- 
thing in the way of natural history. 

Next day (Wednesday) the Budes steamed away, 
and there came many answers to the telegrams of Mr. 
Macrae, and one from Logan to Merton. Logan 
was hard by, cruising with his cousin. Admiral Chirn- 
side, at the naval manoeuvres on the northeast coast. 
He would come to Inchnadampf at once. Mr. Macrae 
heard from Gianesi and Giambresi. Gianesi himself 
was coming with a fresh machine. Mr. Macrae 
wished it had been Giambresi, whom he knew; 
Gianesi he had never met. Condolences, of course, 
poured in from all quarters, even the most exalted. 
The Emperor of Germany was most sympathetic. 
But there was no news of importance. Several yacht- 
ing parties had been suspected and examined ; three 
young ladies at Oban, Applecross, and Tobermory, 
had established their identity and proved that they 
were not Miss Macrae. 



374 THE DISENTANGLERS 

All day the wireless machine was silent Mr. 
Williams was shown all the rooms in the castle, and 
met Blake, who appeared at luncheon. Blake was 
most civil. He asked for a private interview with Mr. 
Macrae, who inquired whether his school friend, Mr. 
Williams, might share it? Blake was pleased to give 
them both all the information he had, though his 
head, he admitted, still rang with the cowardly blow 
that had stunned him. He was told of the discovery 
of the burned boat, and was asked whether it had 
approached from east or west, from the side of the 
Atlantic, or from the head of the sea loch. 

' From Kinlocharty,' he said, ' from the head of the 
loch, the landward side.' This agreed with the evi- 
dence of the villagers on the other side of the sea 
loch. 

Would he recognise the crew? He had only seen 
them at a certain distance, when they landed, but in 
spite of the blow on his head he remembered the 
black beard of one man, and the red beard of another. 
To be sure they might shave off their beards, yet 
these two he thought he could identify. Speaking 
to Miss Macrae as the men passed them, he had 
called one Donald Dubh, or * black,' and the other 
Donald Ban, or 'fair.' They carried heavy shep- 
herds' crooks in their hands. Their dress was Low- 
land, but they wore unusually broad bonnets of the 
old sort, drooping over the eyes. Blake knew no 
more, except his anguish from the midges. 

He expressed his hope to be well enough to go 
away on Friday; he would retire to the inn at 
Scourie, and try to persevere with his literary work. 



ADVENTURE OF THE CANADIAN HEIRESS 375 

Mr. Macrae would not hear of this; as, if the mis- 
creants were captured, Blake alone could have a 
chance of identifying them. To this Blake replied 
that, as long as Mr. Macrae thought that he might be 
useful, he was at his service. 

To Merton, Blake displayed himself in a new light. 
He said that he remembered little of what occurred 
after he was found at the foot of the cliff. Probably 
he was snappish and selfish ; he was suffering very 
much. His head, indeed, was still bound up, and his 
face showed how he had suffered. Merton shook 
hands with him, and said that he hoped Blake would 
forget his own behaviour, for which he was sincerely 
sorry. 

' Oh, the chaff? ' said Blake. ' Never mind, I dare 
say I played the fool. I have been thinking, when 
my brain would give me leave, as I lay in bed. Mer- 
ton, you are a trifle my senior, and you know the 
world much better. I have lived in a writing and 
painting set, where we talked nonsense till it went to 
our heads, and we half believed it. And-, to tell you 
the truth, the presence of women always sets me off. 
I am a humbug ; I do not know Gaelic, but I mean to 
work away at my drama for all that. This kind of 
shock against the realities of life sobers a fellow.' 

Blake spoke simply, in an unaffected, manly way. 

' Semel in saninivimus omnes / * said Merton. 

* Nee lusisse pudet^ said Blake, * and the rest of it. 
I know there's a parallel in the Greek Anthology^ 
somewhere. I '11 go and get my copy.' 

He went into the observatory (they had been sitting 
on a garden seat outside), and Merton thought to 
himself: 



376 THE DISENTANGLERS 

* He is not such a bad fellow. Not many of your 
young poets know anything but French/ 

Blake seemed to have some difficulty in finding his 
Anthology. At last he came out with rather a 
' carried ' look, as the Scots say, rather excited. 

' Here it is/ he said, and handed Merton the little 
volume, of a Tauchnitz edition, open at the right 
page. Merton read the epigram. ' Very neat and 
good,' he said. 

' Now, Merton,' said Blake, ' it is not usual, is it, for 
ministers of the Anglican sect to play the spy?' 

* What in the world do you mean ? ' asked Merton. 
* Oh, I guess, the Rev. Mr. Williams ! Were you not 
told that his cure of souls is in Scotland Yard ? I 
ought to have told you, I thought our host would 
have done so. What was the holy man doing? ' 

' I was not told,' said Blake, ' I suppose Mr. Macrae 
was too busy. So I was rather surprised, when I 
went into my room for my book, to find the clergy- 
man examining my things and taking books out of 
one of my book boxes.' 

'Good heavens !' exclaimed Merton. 'What did 
you do?' 

' I locked the door of the room, and banded Mr. 
Williams the key of my despatch box. " I have a 
few private trifles there," I said, " the key may save 
you trouble." Then I sat down and wrote a note to 
Mr. Macrae, and rang the bell and asked the servant 
to carry the note to his master. Mr. Macrae came* 
and I explained the situation and asked him to be 
kind enough to order the motor, if he could spare it, 
or anything to carry me to the nearest inn.' 



ADVENTURE OF THE CANADIAN HEIRESS 377 

' I shall order it, Mr. Blake/ said Mr. Macrae, ' but 
it will be to remove this person, whom I especially 
forbade to molest any of my guests. I don't know 
how I forgot to tell you who he is, a detective ; the 
others were told.' 

' He confounded himself in excuses ; it was horribly 
awkward.' 

' Horribly ! ' said Merton. 

* He rated the man for visiting his guests' rooms 
without his knowledge. I dare say the parson has 
turned over all j^our things.' 

Merton blenched. He had some of the correspond- 
ence of the Disentanglers with him, rather private 
matter, naturally. 

' He had not the key of my despatch box,' said 
Merton. 

' He could open it with a quill, I believe,' said Blake. 
* They do — in novels.' 

Merton felt very uneasy. ' What was the end of it ? ' 
he asked. 

' Oh, I said that if the man was within his duty the 
accident was only one of those which so singular a 
misfortune brings with it. I would stay while Mr. 
Macrae wanted me. I handed over my keys, and in- 
sisted that all my luggage and drawers and things 
should be examined. But Mr. Macrae would not 
listen to me, and forbade the fellow to enter any of 
the bedrooms.' 

' Begad, I '11 go and look at my own despatch box,' 
said Merton. 

' I shall sit in the shade,' said Blake. 

Merton did examine his box, but could not see 



378 THE DISENTANGLERS 

that any of the papers had been disarranged. Still, 
as the receptacle was full of family secrets he did not 
feel precisely comfortable. Going out on the lawn 
he met Mr. Macrae, who took him into a retired place 
and told him what had occurred. 

' I had given the man the strictest orders not to 
invade the rooms of any of my guests/ he said ; ' it 
is too odious.' 

The Rev. Mr. Williams being indisposed, dined 
alone in his room that night ; so did Blake, who was 
still far from well. 

The only other incident was that Donald Macdonald 
and the new gillie, Duncan Mackay, were reported to 
be ' lying around in a frightfully dissolute state.' 
Donald was a sober man, but Mackay, he explained 
next morning, proved to be his long lost cousin, 
hence the revel. Mackay, separately, stated that he 
had made Donald intoxicated for the purpose of 
eliciting any guilty secret which he might possess. 
But whisky had elicited nothing. 

On the whole the London detectives had not been 
entirely a success. Mr. Macrae therefore arranged to 
send both of them back to Lairg, where they would 
strike the line, and return to the metropolis. 

Merton had casually talked of Logan (Lord Fast- 
castle) to Mr. Macrae on the previous evening, and 
mentioned that he was now likely to be at Inchna- 
dampf. Mr. Macrae knew something of Logan, and 
before he sped the parting detectives, asked Merton 
whether he thought that he might send a note to 
Inchnadampf inviting his friend to come and bear 
him company? Merton gravely said that in such a 



ADVENTURE OF THE CANADIAN HEIRESS 379 

crisis as theirs he thought that Logan would be ex- 
tremely helpful, and that he was a friend of the Budes. 
Perhaps he himself had better go and pick up Logan 
and inform him fully as to the mysterious events? 
As Mr. Gianesi was also expected from London on 
that day (Thursday) to examine the wireless machine, 
which had been silent, Mr. Macrae sent off several 
vehicles, as well as the motor that carried the de- 
tectives. Merton drove the tandem himself. 

Merton found Logan, with his Spanish bull-dog. 
Bouncer, loafing outside the hotel door at Inchna- 
dampf. He greeted Merton in a state of suppressed 
glee ; the whole adventure was much to the taste of 
the scion of Kestalrig. Merton handed him Mr. 
Macrae's letter of invitation. 

* Come, won't I come, rather ! ' said Logan. 

' Of course we must wait to rest the horses,' said 
Merton. * The motor has gone on to Lairg, carrying 
two detectives who have made a pretty foozle of it, 
and it will bring back an electrician.' 

' What for?' asked Logan. 

* I must tell you the whole story,' said Merton. 
* Let us walk a little way — too many gillies and 
people loafing about here.' 

They walked up the road and sat down by little 
Loch Awe, the lochan on the way to Alt-na-gealgach. 
Merton told all the tale, beginning with his curious 
experiences on the night before the disappearance of 
Miss Macrae, and ending with the dismissal of the 
detectives. He also confided to Logan the import- 
ance of the matter to himself, and entreated him to 
be serious. 



38o THE DISENTANGLERS 

Logan listened very attentively. 

When Merton had ended, Logan said, * Old boy, 
you were the making of me: you may trust me. 
Serious it is. A great deal of capital must have been 
put into this business/ 

' A sprat to catch a whale,' said Merton. ' You 
mean about nobbling the electric machine? How 
could that be done ? ' 

'That — and other things. I don't know A^ncf the 
machine was nobbled, but it could not be done cheap. 
Would you mind telling me your dreams again ? ' 

Merton repeated the story. 

Logan was silent. 

* Do you see your way ? ' asked Merton. 

' I must have time to think it out,' said Logan. 
' It is rather mixed. When was Bude to return from 
his cruise to "The Seven Hunters"?* 

* Perhaps to-night,' said Merton. ' We cannot be 
sure. She is a very swift yacht, the Flora MacdonaUL 

* I '11 think it all over, Bude may give us a tip.' 

No more would Logan say, beyond asking questions, 
which Merton could not answer, about the trans- 
atlantic past of the vanished heiress. 

They loitered back towards the hotel and lunched. 
The room was almost empty, all the guests of the 
place were out fishing. Presently the motor returned 
from Lairg, bringing Mr. Gianesi and a large box of 
his electrical appliances. Merton rapidly told him 
all that he did not already know through Mr. Macrae's 
telegrams. He was a reserved man, rather young, 
and beyond thanking Merton, said little, but pushed 
on towards Castle Skrae in the motor. ' Some other 



ADVENTURE OF THE CANADIAN HEIRESS 381 

motors/ he said, * had arrived, and were being 
detained at Lairg.' They came later. 

Merton and Logan followed in the tandem, Logan 
driving ; they had handed to Gianesi a sheaf of tele- 
grams for the millionaire. As to the objects of 
interest on the now familiar road, Merton enlightened 
Logan, who seemed as absent-minded as Merton had 
been, when instructed by Dr. MacTavish. As they 
approached the Castle, Merton observed, from a 
height, the Flora Macdonald steaming into the sea 
loch. 

' Let us drive straight down to the cove and meet 
them,' he said. 

They arrived at the cove just as the boat from the 
yacht touched the shore. The Budes were astonished 
and delighted to see their old friend, Logan, and his 
dog, Bouncer, a tawny black muzzled, bow-legged 
hero, was admired by Lady Bude. 

Merton rapidly explained. 'Now, what tidings?' 
he asked. 

The party walked aside on the shore, and Bude 
swiftly narrated what he had discovered. 

* They have been there,' he said. * We drew six of 
the islets blank, including the islet of the lighthouse. 
The men there had seen a large yacht, two ladies and 
a gentleman from it had visited them. They knew no 
more. Desert places, the other isles are, full of birds. 
On the seventh isle we found some Highland fisher- 
men from the Lewis in a great state of excitement. 
They had only landed an hour before to pick up 
some fish they had left to dry on the rocks. They 
had no English, but one of our crew had the GaeliCi 



382 THE DISENTANGLERS 

and interpreted in Scots. Regular Gaels, they did 
not want to speak, but I offered money, gold, let 
them see it. Then they took us to a cave. Do you 
know Mackinnon's cave in Mull, opposite lona?' 

* Yes, drive on ! ' said Merton, much interested. 

'Well, inside it was pitched an empty corrugated 
iron house, quite new, and another, on the further 
side, outside the cave.' 

' I picked up this in the interior of the cave/ said 
Lady Bude. 

' This ' was a golden hair-pin of peculiar make. 

' That 's the kind of hair-pin she wears,' said Lady 
Bude. 

' By Jove ! ' said Merton and Logan in one voice. 

' But that was all,' said Bude. ' There was no other 
trace, except that plainly people had been coming 
and going, and living there. They had left some 
empty bottles, and two uncorked champagne bottles. 
We tasted it, it was excellent ! The Lewis men, who 
had not heard of the affair, could tell nothing more, 
except, what is absurd, that they had lately seen a 
dragon flying far off over the sea. A dragon volant^ 
did you ever hear such nonsense? The interpreter 
pronounced it " draigon." He had not too much 
English himself 

' The Highlanders are so delightfully superstitious,' 
said Lady Bude. 

Logan opened his lips to speak, but said nothing. 

' I don't think we should keep Mr. Macrae waiting/ 
said Lady Bude. 

' If Bude will take the reins,' said Merton, 'you and 
he can be at the Castle in no time. We shall walk.* 



ADVENTURE OF THE CANADIAN HEIRESS 383 

' Excuse me a moment/ said Logan. ' A word with 
you, Bude.* 

He took Bude aside, uttered a few rapid sentences, 
and then helped Lady Bude into the tandem. Bude 
followed, and drove away. 

*Is your secret to be kept from me?* asked 
Merton. 

* Well, old boy, you never told me the mystery of 
the Emu's feathers I Secret for secret, out with it ; 
how did the feathers help you, if they did help you, 
to find out my uncle, the Marquis ? Gifgaff, as we 
say in Berwickshire. Out with your feathers! and 
I '11 produce my dragon volant^ tail and all.' 

Merton was horrified. The secret of the Emu's 
feathers involved the father of Lady Fastcastle, of his 
old friend's wife, in a very distasteful way. Logan, 
since his marriage, had never shown any curiosity in 
the matter. His was a joyous nature ; no one was 
less of a self-tormentor. 

* Well, old fellow,' said Merton, ' keep your dragon, 
and I *11 keep my Emu/ 

' I won't keep him long, I assure you,' said Logan. 
* Only for a day or two, I dare say ; then you *11 know ; 
sooner perhaps. But, for excellent reasons, I asked 
Bude and Lady Bude to say nothing about the hallu- 
cination of these second-sighted Highland fishers. I 
have a plan. I think we shall run in the kidnappers ; 
keep your pecker up. You shall be in it ! ' 

With this promise, and with Logan's jovial confi- 
dence (he kept breaking into laughter as he went) 
Merton had to be satisfied, though in no humour for 
laughing. 



384 THE DISENTANGLERS 

' I 'm working up to my denouement^' Logan said. 
' Tremendously dramatic ! You shall be on all through ; 
I am keeping the fat for you, Merton. It is no bad 
thing for a young man to render the highest possible 
services to a generous millionaire, especially in the 
circumstances/ 

'You're rather patronising,' said Merton, a little 
hurt. 

' No, no,' said Logan. ' I have played second fiddle 
to you often, do let me take command this time — or, 
at all events, wait till you see my plot unfolded. Then 
you can take your part, or leave it alone, or modify 
to taste. Nothing can be fairer.' 

Merton admitted that these proposals were loyal, 
and worthy of their old and tried friendship. 

' Un dragon volant, flying over the empty sea ! * 
said Logan. ' The Highlanders beat the world for 
fantastic visions, and the Islanders beat the High- 
landers. But, look here, am I too inquisitive? The 
night when we first thought of the Disentanglers you 
said there was — somebody. But I understood that 
she and you were of one mind, and that only parents 
and poverty were in the way. And now, from what 
you told me this morning at Inchnadampf, it seems 
that there is no understanding between you and t/iis 
lady. Miss Macrae.' 

* There is none,' said Merton. * I tried to keep my 
feelings to myself — I 'm ashamed to say that I doubt 
if I succeeded.' 

'Any chance?' asked Logan, putting his arm in 
Merton's in the old schoolboy way. 

' I would rather not speak about it/ said Merton. 



ADVENTURE OF THE CANADIAN HEIRESS 385 

' I had meant to go myself on the Monday. Then 
came the affair of Sunday night/ and he sighed. 

'Then the somebody before was another some- 
body?' 

* Yes/ said Merton, turning rather red. 

' Men have died and the worms have eaten them, 
but not for love/ muttered Logan. 

IV. The Adventure of Eachain of the Hairy Arm 

On arriving at the Castle Logan and Merton found 
poor Mr. Macrae comparatively cheerful. Bude and 
Lady Bude had told what they had gleaned, and the 
millionaire, recognising his daughter's hair-pin, had 
all but broken down. Lady Bude herself had wept 
as he thanked her for this first trace, this endearing 
relic, of the missing girl, and he warmly welcomed 
Merton, who had detected the probable meaning of 
the enigmatic ' Seven Hunters.' 

' It is to you^ he said, ' Mr. Merton, that I owe 
the intelligence of my daughter's life and probable 
comfort.' 

Lady Bude caught Merton's eye ; one of hers was 
slightly veiled by her long lashes. 

The telegrams of the day had only brought the 
usual stories of the fruitless examination of yachts, 
and of hopes unfulfilled and clues that led to nothing. 
The outermost islets were being searched, and a 
steamer had been sent to St. Kilda. At home Mr. 
Gianesi had explained to Mr. Macrae that he and his 
partner were forced, reluctantly, by the nature of the 
case, to suspect treason within their own establish- 

S5 



386 THE DISENTANGLERS 

ment in London, a thing hitherto unprecedented. 
They had therefore instdled a new machine in a 
carefully locked chamber at their place, and Mr. 
Gianesi was ready at once to set up a corresponding 
recipient engine at Castle Skrae. Mr. Macrae wished 
first to remove the machine in the smoking-room, 
but Blake ventured to suggest that it had better be 
left where it was. 

' The conspirators/ he said, ' have made one 
blunder already, by mentioning "The Seven Hunt- 
ers," unless, indeed, that was intentional ; they tnay 
have meant to lighten our anxiety, without leaving 
any useful clue. They may make another mistake : 
in any case it is as well to be in touch with them.' 

At this moment the smoking-room machine began 
to tick and emitted a message. It ran, ' Glad you 
visited the Hunters. You see we do ourselves very 
well. Hope you drank our health, we left some 
bottles of champagne on purpose. No nasty feeling, 
only a matter of business. Do hurry up and come 
to terms.* 

' Impudent dogs ! ' said Mr. Macrae. ' But I think 
you are right, Mr. Blake ; we had better leave these 
communications open.' 

Mr. Gianesi agreed that Blake had spoken words 
of wisdom. Merton felt surprised at his practical 
common sense. It was necessary to get another pole 
to erect on the roof of the observatory, with another 
box at top for the new machine, but a flagstaff from 
the Castle leads was found to serve the purpose, and 
the rest of the day was passed in arranging the instal- 
ment, the new machine being placed in Mr. Merton's 



ADVENTURE OF THE CANADIAN HEIRESS 387 

own study. Before dinner was over, Mr. Gianesi, who 
worked like a horse, was able to announce that all 
was complete, and that a brief message, 'Yours 
received, all right,' had passed through from his firm 
in London. 

Soon after dinner Blake retired to his room ; his 
head was still suffering, and he could not bear smoke. 
Gianesi and Mr. Macrae were in the Castle, Mr. 
Macrae feverishly reading the newspaper speculations 
on the melancholy affair : leading articles on Science 
and Crime, the potentialities of both, the perils 
of wealth, and such other thoughts as occurred to 
active minds in Fleet Street. Gianesi's room was in 
the observatory, but he remained with Mr. Macrae in 
case he might be needed. Merton and Logan were 
alone in the smoking-room, where Bude left them 
early. 

' Now, Merton,' said Logan, ' you are going to come 
on in the next scene. Have you a revolver? ' 

* Heaven forbid ! ' said Merton. 

* Well, I have ! Now this is what you arc to do. 
We shall both turn in about twelve, and make a good 
deal of clatter and talk as we do so. You will come 
with me into my room. Til hand you the revolver, 
loaded, silently, while we talk fishing shop with the 
door open. Then you will go rather noisily to your 
room, bang the door, take off your shoes, and slip 
out again — absolutely noiselessly — back into the 
smoking-room. You see that window in the em- 
brasure here, next the door, looking out towards the 
loch? The curtain is drawn already, you will go on 
the window-seat and sit tight! Don't fall asleep! 



388 THE DISENTANGLERS 

I shall give you my portable electric lamp for reading 
in the train. You may find it useful. Only don't fall 
asleep. When the row begins I shall come on.' 

' I see/ said Merton. ' But look here ! Suppose 
you slip out of your own room, locking the door 
quiedy, and into mine, where you can snore, you 
know — I snore myself — in case anybody takes a 
fancy to see whether I am asleep ? Leave your dog 
in your own room, he snores, all Spanish bull-dogs 
do/ 

' Yes, that will serve,' said Logan. ' Merton, your 
mind is not wholly inactive.' 

They had some whisky and soda-water, and carried 
out the manoeuvres on which they had decided. 

Merton, unshod, silently re-entered the smoking- 
room, his shoes in his hand; Logan as tactfully 
occupied Merton's room, and then they waited. 
Presently, the smoking-room door being slightly ajar, 
Merton heard Logan snoring very naturally; the 
Spanish bull-dog was yet more sonorous. Gianesi 
came in, walked upstairs to his bedroom, and shut 
his door; in half an hour he also was snoring; it 
was a nasal trio. 

Merton ' drove the night along,' like Dr. Johnson, 
by repeating Latin and other verses. He dared not 
turn on the light of his portable electric lamp and 
read; he was afraid to smoke; he heard the owls 
towhitting and towhooing from the woods, and the 
clock on the Castle tower striking the quarters and 
the hours. 

One o'clock passed, two o'clock passed, a quarter 
after two, then the bell of the wireless machine rang. 



ADVENTURE OF THE CANADIAN HEIRESS 389 

the machine began to tick ; Merton sat tight, listen- 
ing. All the curtains of the window; were drawn, 
the room was almost perfectly dark ; the snorings had 
sometimes lulled, sometimes revived. Merton lay 
behind the curtains on the window-seat, facing the 
door. He knew, almost without the help of his ears, 
that the door was slowly, slowly opening. Some- 
thing entered, something paused, something stole 
silently towards the wireless machine, and paused 
again. Then a glow suffused the further end of the 
room, a disc of electric light, clearly from a portable 
lamp. A draped form, in deep shadow, was exposed 
to Merton's view. He stole forward on tiptoe with 
noiseless feet; he leaped on the back of the figure, 
threw his lefl arm round its neck, caught its right 
wrist in a grip of steel, and yelled : 

' Mr. Eachain of the Hairy Arm, if I am not mis- 
taken!' 

At the same moment there came a click, the 
electric light was switched on, Logan bounced on to 
the figure, tore away a revolver from the right hand 
of which Merton held the wrist, and the two fell on 
the floor above a struggling Highland warrior in the 
tartans of the Macraes. The figure was thrown 'on 
its face. 

' Got you now, Mr. Blake I ' said Logan, turning 

the head to the light. ' D n ! ' he added ; ' it is 

Gianesi I I thought we had the Irish minstrel.' 

The figure only snarled, and swore in Italian. 

' First thing, anyhow, to tie him up,' said Logan, 
producing a serviceable cord. 

Both Logan and Merton were muscular men, and 



390 THE DISENTANGLERS 

presently had the intruder tightly swathed in inex- 
tricable knots and gagged in a homely but sufficient 
fashion. 

' Now, Merton/ said Logan, ' this is a bitter disap- 
pointment ! From your dream, or vision, of Eachain 
of the Hairy Arm, it was clear to me that somebody, 
the poet for choice, had heard the yarn of the High- 
land ghost, and was masquerading in the kilt for 
the purpose of tampering with the electric dodge 
and communicating with the kidnappers. Appar- 
ently I owe the bard an apology. You '11 sit on this 
fellow's chest while I go and bring Mr. Macrae.' 

'A message has come in on the machine/ said 
Merton. 

' Well, he can read it ; it is not our affair.' 

Logan went off; Merton poured out a glass of 
ApoUinaris water, added a little whisky, and lit a 
cigarette. The figure on the floor wriggled ; Merton 
put the revolver which the man had dropped and 
Logan's pistol into a drawer of the writing-table, 
which he locked. 

' I do detest all that cheap revolver business/ said 
Merton. 

The row had awakened Logan's dog, which was 
howling dolefully in the neighbouring room. 

' Queer situation, eh? ' said Merton to the prostrate 
figure. 

Hurrying footsteps climbed the stairs ; Mr. Macrae 
(with a shot-gun) and Logan entered. 

Mr. Macrae all but embraced Merton. ' Had I a 
son, I could have wished him to be like you/ he said ; 
'but my poor boy 'his voice broke. Merton 



ADVENTURE OF THE CANADIAN HEIRESS 391 

had not known before that the millionaire had lost a 
son. He did understand, however, that the judicious 
Logan had given him the whole credit of the exploit, 
for reasons too obvious to Merton. 

'Don't thank me,' he was saying, when Logan 
interrupted : 

' Don't you think, Mr. Macrae, you had better ex- 
amine the message that has just come in? ' 

Mr. Macrae read, ' Glad they found the hair-pin, it 
will console the old boy. Do not quite see how to 
communicate, if Gianesi, who, you say, has arrived, 
removes the machine.' 

' Look here,* cried Merton, ' excuse my offering 
advice, but we ought, I think, to send for Donald 
Macdonald at once. We must flash back a message 
to those brutes, so they may think they are still in 
communication with the traitor in our camp. That 
beast on the floor could work it, of course, but he 
would only warn them; we can't check him. We 
must use Donald, and keep them thinking that they 
are sending news to the traitor.' 

* But, by Jove,' said Logan, ' they have heard from 
him, whoever he is, since Bude came back, for they 
know about the finding of the hair-pin. You,' he said 
to the wretched captive, ' have you been at this 
machine ? ' 

The man, being gagged, only gasped. 

* There 's this, too,' said Merton, ' the senders of 
the last message clearly think that Gianesi is against 
them. If Gianesi removes the machine, they say ' 

Merton did not finish his sentence, he rushed out 
of the room. Presently he hurried back. ' Mr. 



39a THE DISENTANGLERS 

Macrae/ he said, * Blake's door is locked. I can't 
waken him, and, if he were in his room, the noise we 
have made must have wakened him already. Logan, 
ungag that creature ! ' 

Logan removed the gag. 

* Who are you f ' he asked. 

The captive was silent. 

' Mr. Macrae,' said Merton, ' may I run and bring 
Donald and the other servants here ? Donald must 
work the machine at once, and we must break in 
Blake's door, and, if he is off, we must rouse the 
country after him.' 

Mr. Macrae seemed almost dazed, the rapid se- 
quence of unusual circumstances being remote from 
his experience. In spite of the blaze of electric light, 
the morning was beginning to steal into the room ; 
the refreshments on the table looked oddly dissipated, 
there was a heavy stale smell of tobacco, and of 
whisky from a bottle that had been upset in the 
struggle. Mr. Macrae opened a window and inhaled 
the fresh air from the Atlantic. 

This revived him. ' I '11 ring the alarm bell,' he 
said, and, putting a small key to an unnoticed key- 
hole in a panel, he opened a tiny door, thrust in his 
hand, and pressed a knob. Instantly from the Castle 
tower came the thunderous knell of the alarm. * I 
had it put in in case of fire or burglars,' explained 
the millionaire, adding automatically, ' every modem 
improvement.* 

In a few minutes the servants and gillies had 
gathered, hastily clad ; they were met by Logan, who 
briefly bade some bring hammers, and the caber, or 



ADVENTURE OF THE CANADIAN HEIRESS 393 

pine-tree trunk that is tossed in Highland sports. It 
would make a good battering-ram. Donald Mac- 
donald he sent at once to Mr. Macrae. He met Bude 
and Lady Bude, and rapidly explained that there was 
no danger of fire. The Countess went back to her 
rooms, Bude returned with Logan into the observatory. 
Here they found Donald telegraphing to the conspir- 
ators, by the wireless engine, a message dictated by 
Merton : 

' Don't be alarmed about communications. I have 
got them to leave our machine in its place on the 
chance that you might say something that would give 
you away. Gianesi suspects nothing. Wire as usual, 
at about half-past two in the morning, when you mean 
it for me.' 

'That ought to be good enough,' said Logan ap- 
provingly, while the hammers and the caber, under 
Mr. Macrae's directions, were thundering on the door 
of Blake's room. The door, which was very strong, 
gave way at last with a crash ; in they burst. The 
room was empty,* a rope fastened to the ironwork of 
the bedstead showed the poet's means of escape, for 
a long rope-ladder swung from the window. On the 
table lay a letter directed to 

Thomas Merton^ Esq.^ 

care of Ronald Macrae^ Esq,, 

Castle Skrae. 

Mr. Macrae took the letter, bidding Benson, the 
butler, search the room, and conveyed the epistle to 
Merton, who opened it It ran thus : — 



394 THE DISENTANGLERS 

'Dear Merton, — As a man of the world, and slightly 
my senior, you must have expected to meet me in the 
smoking-room to-night, or at least Lord Fastcastle probably 
entertained that hope. I saw that things were getting a 
little too warm, and made other arrangements. It is a little 
hard on the poor fellow whom you have probably mauled, 
if you have not shot each other. As he has probably in- 
formed you, he is not Mr. Gianesi, but a dismissed employe^ 
whom we enlisted, and whom I found it desirable to leave 
behind me. These discomforts will occur ; I myself did 
not look for so severe an assault as I suffered down at the 
cove on Sunday evening. The others carried out their parts 
only too conscientiously in my case. You will not easily 
find an opportunity of renewing our acquaintance, as I slit 
and cut the tyres of all the motors, except that on which I 
am now retiring from hospitable Castle Skrae, having alsc 
slit largely the tyres of the bicycles. Mr. Macrae's new 
wireless machine has been rendered useless by my unfortu- 
nate associate, and, as I have rather spiked aU the wheeled 
conveyances (I could not manage to scuttle the yacht), yoa 
will be put to some inconvenience to re-establish communi- 
cations. By that time my trail will be lost I enclose a 
banknote for lo/., which pray, if you would oblige me, dis- 
tribute among the servants at the Castle. Please thank 
Mr. Macrae for all his hospitality. Among my books you 
may find something to interest you. You may keep my 
manuscript poems. 

Very faithfully yours, 

Gerald Blaxx.* 

<p. S. — The genuine Gianesi will probably arrive at 
Lairg to-morrow. My unfortunate associate (whom I cannot 
sufficiently pity), relieved him of his ingenious machine t% 



ADVENTURE OF THE CANADIAN HEIRESS 395 

rouie^ and left him, heavily drugged, in a train bound for 
Fort William. Or perhaps Gianesi may come by sea to 
Loch Inver. G. B.' 

When Merton had read this elegant epistle aloud, 
Benson entered, bearing electrical apparatus which 
had been found in the book boxes abandoned by 
Blake. What he had done was obvious enough. He 
had merely smuggled in, in his book boxes, a machine 
which corresponded with that of the kidnappers, and 
had substituted its mechanism for that supplied 
to Mr. Macrae by Gianesi and Giambresi. This he 
must have arranged on the Saturday night, when 
Merton saw the kilted appearance of Eachain of the 
Hairy Arm. A few metallic atoms from the coherer 
on the floor of the smoking-room had caught Merton's 
eye before breakfast on Sunday morning. Now it 
was Friday morning ! And still no means of detect- 
ing and capturing the kidnappers had been discovered. 

Out of the captive nothing could be extracted. 
The room had been cleared, save for Mr. Macrae, 
Logan, and Bude, and the man had been interrogated. 
He refused to answer any questions, and demanded 
to be taken before a magistrate. Now, where was 
there a magistrate ? 

Logan lighted the smoking-room fire, thrust the 
poker into it, and began tying hard knots in a length 
of cord, all this silently. His brows were knit, his 
lips were set, in his eye shone the wild light of the 
blood of Restalrig. Bude and Mr. Macrae looked on 
aghast. 

' What are you about? ' asked Merton. 



396 THE DISENTANGLERS 

' There are methods of extracting information from 
reluctant witnesses/ snarled Logan. 

' Oh, bosh ! ' said Merton. ' Mr. Macrae cannot 
permit you to revive your ancestral proceedings/ 

Logan threw down his knotted cord. ' I beg your 
pardon, Mr. Macrae/ he said, ' but if I had that dog 
in my house of Kirkburn ' he then went out. 

' Lord Fastcastle is a little moved,' said Merton. 
' He comes of a wild stock, but I never saw him like 
this/ 

Mr. Macrae allowed that the circumstances were 
unusual. 

A horrible thought occurred to Merton. *Mr. 
Macrae/ he exclaimed, ' may I speak to you privately? 
Bude, I dare say, will be kind enough to remain with 
that person.' 

Mr. Macrae followed Merton into the billiard-room. 

' My dear sir/ said the pallid Merton, ' Logan and 
I have made a terrible blunder ! We never doubted 
that, if we caught any one, our captive would be 
Blake. I do not deny that this man is his accomplice, 
but we have literally no proof He may persist, if 
taken before a magistrate, that he is Gianesi. He 
may say that, being in your employment as an electri- 
cian, he naturally entered the smoking-room when the 
electric bell rang. He can easily account for his 
possession of a revolver, in a place where a mysterious 
crime has just been committed. As to the Highland 
costume, he may urge that, like many Southrons, he 
had bought it to wear on a Highland tour, and was 
trying it on. How can you keep him? You have no 
longer the right of Fit and Gallows. Before what 



ADVENTURE OF THE CANADIAN HEIRESS 397 

magistrate can you take him, and where ? The sheriff- 
substitute may be at Golspie, or Tongue, or Dingwall, 
or I don't know where. What can we do? What 
have we against the man ? " Loitering with intent " ? 
And here Logan and I have knocked him down, and 
tied him up, and Logan wanted to torture him.' 

* Dear Mr. Merton,' replied Mr. Macrae, with pater- 
nal tenderness, * you are overwrought. You have not 
slept all night. I must insist that you go to bed, and 
do not rise till you are called. The man is certainly 
guilty of conspiracy, that will be proved when the 
real Gianesi comes to hand. If not, I do not doubt 
that I can secure his silence. You forget the power 
of money. Make yourself easy, go to sleep ; mean- 
while I must re-establish communications. Good- 
night, golden slumbers ! ' 

He wrung Merton's hand, and left him admiring 
the calm resolution of one whose conversation, 'in 
the mad pride of intellectuality,' he had recently 
despised. The millionaire, Merton felt, was worthy 
to be his daughter's father. 

* The power of money ! ' mused Mr. Macrae ; * what 
is it in circumstances like mine? Surrounded by all 
the resources of science, I am baffled by a clever 
rogue and in a civilised country the aid of the law 
and the police is as remote and inaccessible as in the 
Great Sahara ! But to business I ' 

He sent for Benson, bade him, with some gillies, 
carry the prisoner into the dungeon of the old castle, 
loose his bonds, place food before him, and leave him 
in charge of the stalker. He informed Bude that 
breakfast would be ready at eight, and then retired 
to his study, where he matured his plans. 



398 THE DISENTANGLERS 

The yacht he would send to Lochinver to await the 
real Gianesi there, and to send telegrams descriptive 
of Blake in all directions. Giambresi must be tele- 
graphed to again, and entreated to come in person, 
with yet another electric machine, for that brought 
by the false Gianesi had been, by the same envoy, 
rendered useless. A mounted man must be de- 
spatched to Lairg to collect vehicles and transport 
there, and to meet the real Gianesi if he came that 
way. Thus Mr. Macrae, with cool patience and fore- 
thought, endeavoured to recover his position, happy 
in the reflection that treachery had at last been elimi- 
nated. He did not forget to write telegrams to 
remote sherifi'-substitutes and procurators fiscal. 

As to the kidnappers, he determined to amuse 
them with protracted negotiations on the subject of 
his daughter's ransom. These would be despatched, 
of course, by the wireless engine which was in tune 
and touch with their own. During the parleyings the 
wretches might make some blunder, and Mr. Macrae 
could perhaps think out some plan for their detection 
and capture, without risk to his daughter. If not, he 
must pay ransom. 

Having written out his orders and teleg^rams, Mr. 
Macrae went downstairs to visit the stables. He gave 
his commands to his servants, and, as he returned, 
he met Logan, who had been on the watch for 
him. 

* I am myself again, Mr. Macrae,' said Logan, smil- 
ing. • After all, we are living in the twentieth century, 
not the sixteenth, worse luck ! And now can you 
give me youi attention for a few minutes? ' 



ADVENTURE OF THE CANADIAN HEIRESS 399 

' Willingly/ said Mr. Macrae, and they walked 
together to a point in the garden where they were 
secure from being overheard. 

' I must ask you to lend me ahorse to ride to Lairg 
and the railway at once/ said Logan. 

'Must you leave us? You cannot, I fear, catch 
the 12.50 train south/ 

' I shall take a special train if I cannot catch the 
one I want,' said Logan, adding, ' I have a scheme for 
baffling these miscreants and rescuing Miss Macrae, 
while disappointing them of the monstrous ransom 
which they are certain to claim. If you can trust me, 
you will enter into protracted negotiations with them 
on the matter through the wireless machine.' 

'That I had already determined to do,' said the 
millionaire. ' But may I inquire what is your 
scheme?' 

* Would it be asking too much to request you to 
let me keep it concealed, even from you? Every- 
thing depends on the most absolute secrecy. You 
must not appear that you are concerned — must not 
be suspected. My plan has been suggested to me by 
trifling indications which no one else has remarked. 
It is a plan which, I confess, appears wild, but what 
is not wild in this unhappy afiair? Science, as a rule 
beneficent, has given birth to potentialities of crime 
which exceed the dreams of oriental romance. But 
science, like the spear of Achilles, can cure the 
wounds which herself inflicts.' 

Logan spoke calmly, but eloquently, as every 
reader must observe. He was no longer the flerce 
Border baron of an hour agone, but the polished 



400 THE DISENTANGLEKS 

modern gentleman. The millionaire marked the 
change. 

' Any further mystery cannot but be distasteful. 
Lord Fastcastle/ said Mr. Macrae. 

' The truth is/ said Logan, ' that if my plan takes 
shape important persons and interests will be involved. 
I myself will be involved, and, for reasons both 
public and private, it seems to me to the last deg^ree 
essential that you should in no way appear; that 
you should be able, honestly, to profess entire ig^no- 
ranee. If I fail, I give you my word of honour that 
your position will be in no respect modified by my 
action. If I succeed ' 

* Then you will, indeed, be my preserver/ said the 
millionaire. 

' Not I, but my friend, Mr. Merton/ said Logan, 
' who, by the way, ought to accompany me. In Mr. 
Merton's genius for success in adventures entailing a 
mystery more dark, and personal dangers far greater, 
than those involved by my scheme (which is really 
quite safe), I have confidence based on large experi- 
ence. To Merton alone I owe it that I am a married, 
a happy, and, speaking to any one but yourself, I 
might say an affluent man. This adventure must be 
achieved, if at all, auspice Merton! 

' I also have much confidence in him, and I sin- 
cerely love him,' said Mr. Macrae, to the delight of 
Logan. He then paced silently up and down in deep 
thought. ' You say that your scheme involves you 
in no personal danger?' he asked. 

' In none, or only in such as men encounter daily 
in several professions. Merton and I like it.' 



ADVENTURE OF THE CANADIAN HEIRESS 401 

'And you will not suffer in character if you fail? ' 

' Certainly not in character ; no gentleman of my 
coat ever entered on enterprise so free from moral 
blame/ said Logan, ' since my ancestor and namesake, 
Sir Robert, fell at the side of the good Lord James 
of Douglas, above the Heart of Bruce.' 

He thrilled and changed colour as he spoke. 

' Yet it would not do for me to be known to be con- 
nected with the enterprise? ' asked Mr. Macrae. 

' Indeed it would not ! Your notorious opulence 
would arouse ideas in the public mind, ideas false, 
indeed, but fatally compromising.' 

' I may not even subsidise the affair — put a million 
to Mr. Merton's account?' 

' In no sort I Afterwards, after he succeeds, then 
I don't say, if Merton will consent ; but that is highly 
improbable. I know my friend.' 

Mr. Macrae sighed deeply and remained pensive. 
•Well,' he answered at last, *I accept your very 
gallant and generous proposal.' 

' I am overjoyed ! ' said Logan. He had never 
been in such a big thing before. 

' I shall order my two best horses to be saddled 
after breakfast,' said Mr. Macrae. ' You will bait at 
Inchnadampf 

' Here is my address ; this will alwa)^ find me,' 
said Logan, writing rapidly on a leaf of his note-book. 

' You will wire all news of your negotiations with 
the pirates to me, by the new wireless machine, when 
Giambresi brings it, and his firm in town will tele- 
graph it on to me, at the address I gave you, in 

cypher. To save time, we must use a book cypher, 

a6 



403 THE DISENTANGLERS 

we can settle it in the house in ten minutes/ said 
Logan, now entirely in his element 

They chose The Bonnie Brier Bush^ by Mr. Ian 
Maclaren — a work too popular to excite suspicion ; 
and arranged the method of secret correspondence 
with great rapidity. Logan then rushed up to Mer- 
ton's room» hastily communicated the scheme to him, 
and overcame his objections, nay, awoke in him, by 
his report of Mr. Macrae's words, the hopes of a lover. 
They came down to breakfast, and arranged that their 
haggage should be sent after them as soon as com- 
munications were restored. 

Merton contrived to have a brief interview with 
Lady Bude. Her joyous spirit shone in her eyes. 

' I do not know what Lord Fastcastle's plan is,' 
she said, ' but I wish you good fortune. You have 
won ^t father's heart, and now I am about to be fake 
to my sex ' — she whispered — * the daughter's is all 
but your own ! I can help you a little/ she added, 
and, after warmly clasping both her hands in his, 
Merton hurried to the front of the house, where the 
horses stood, and sprang into the saddle. No motors, 
no bicycles, no scientific vehicles to-day; the clean 
wind piped to him from the mountains ; a good steed 
was between his thighs ! Logan mounted, after en- 
trusting Bouncer to Lady Bude, and they galloped 
eastwards. 



V, The Adventure of the Flora Macdonald 

'This is the point indicated, latitude so and so» 
longitude so and so,' said Mr Macrae. * But I do not 



ADVENTURE OF THE CANADIAN HEIRESS 403 

see a sail or a funnel on the western horizon. Noth- 
ing since we left the Fleet behind us, far to the East. 
Yet it is the hour. It is strange I ' 

Mr. Macrae was addressing Bude. They stood to- 
gether on the deck of the I'lora Macdonald, the vast 
yacht of the millionaire. She was lying to on a sea 
as glassy and radiant, under a blazing August sun, as 
the Atlantic can show in her mildest moods. On the 
quarter-deck of the yacht were piled great iron boxes 
containing the millions in gold with which the million- 
aire had at last consented to ransom his daughter. 
He had been negotiating with her captors through 
the wireless machine, and, as Logan could not promise 
any certain release, Mr. Macrae had finally surren- 
dered, while informing Logan of the circumstances 
and details of his rendezvous with the kidnappers. 
The amassing of the gold had shaken the exchanges 
of two worlds. Banks trembled, rates were enormous, 
but the precious metal had been accumulated. The 
pirates would not take Mr. Macrae's cheque ; bank 
notes they laughed at, the millions must be paid in 
gold. Now at last the gold was on the spot of ocean 
indicated by the kidnappers, but there was no sign of 
sail or ship, no promise of their coming. Men with 
telescopes in the rigging of the Flora were on the out- 
look in vain. They could pick up one of the floating 
giants of our fleet, far off" to the East, but North, 
West and South were empty wastes of water. 

* Three o'clock has come and gone. I hope there 
has been no accident/ said Mr. Macrae nervously. 
* But where are those thieves? ' He absently pressed 
his repeater, it tingled out the half-hour. 



404 THE DISENTANGLERS 

' It is odd/ said Bude. ' Hullo, look there, what 's 
tAaf f ' 

That was a slim spar, which suddenly shot from the 
plain of ocean, at a distance of a hundred yards. On 
its apex a small black hood twisted itself this way and 
that like a living thing ; so tranquil was the hour that 
the spar with its dull hood was distinctly reflected in 
the mirror-like waters of the ocean. 

' By gad, it is the periscope of a submarine t ' said 
Bude. 

There could not be a doubt of it The invention 
of Napier of Merchistoun and of M. Jules Verne, now 
at last an actual engine of human warfare, had been 
employed by the kidnappers of the daughter of the 
millionaire I 

A light flashed on the mind, steady and serviceable, 
but not brilliantly ingenious, of Mr. Macrae. ' This/ 
he exclaimed rather superfluously, * accounts for the 
fiendish skill with which these miscreants took cover 
when pursued by the Marine Police. This explains 
the subtle art with which they dodged observation. 
Doubtless they had always, somewhere, a well-found 
normal yacht containing their supplies. Do you not 
agree with me, my lord ? * 

* In my opinion,' said Bude, ' you have satisfactorily 
explained what has so long puzzled us. But look I The 
periscope, having reconnoitred us, is sinking again ! * 

It was true. The slim spar grracefully descended 
to the abyss. Again ocean smiled with innumerable 
laughters (as the Athenian sings), smiled, empt>% 
azure, effulgent! The Flora Macdonald was once 
more alone on a wide, wide sea! 



ADVENTURE OF THE CANADIAN HEIRESS 405 

Two slight jars were now just felt by the owner, 
skipper, and crew of the Flora Macdonald, ' What 's 
that? ' asked Mr. Macrae sharply. ' A reef? ' 

' In my opinion/ said the captain, ' the beggars in 
the submarine have torpedoed us. Attached torpe- 
does to our keel, sir,* he explained, respectfully touch- 
ing his cap and shifting the quid in his cheek. He 
was a bluff tar of the good old school. 

' Merciful heavens ! ' exclaimed Mr. Macrae, his face 
paling. 'What can this new outrage mean? Here 
on our deck is the gold ; if they explode their torpe- 
does the bullion sinks to join the exhaustless treasures 
of the main ! ' 

' A bit of bluff and blackmail on their part I fancy,' 
said Bude, lighting a cigarette. 

' No doubt ! No doubt ! ' said Mr. Macrae, rather 
unsteadily. ' They would never be such fools as to 
blow up the millions. Still, an accident might have 
awful results.' 

' Look there, sir, if you please,' said the captain of 
the Flora Macdonald^ ' there 's that spar of theirs up 
again.' 

It was so. The spar, the periscope, shot up on the 
larboard side of the yacht After it had reconnoitred, 
the mirror of ocean was stirred into dazzling circ- 
ling waves, and the deck of a submarine slowly 
emerged. The deck was long and flat, and of a 
much larger area than submarines in general have. 
It would seem to indicate the presence below the 
water of a body or hull of noble proportions. A 
voice hailed the yacht from the submarine, though 
no speaker was visible. 



4o6 THiE DISENTANGLERS 

'You have no consort? ' the voice yelled. 

* For ten years I have been a widower/ replied Mr. 
Macrae, his voice trembling with emotion. 

' Most sorry to have unintentionally awakened una- 
vailing regrets/ came the voice. ' But I mean, honour 
bright, you have no attendant armed vessel? ' 

' None, I promised you so,' said Mr. Macrae ; ' I 
am a man of my word. Come on deck if you doubt 
me and look for yourself.' 

' Not me, and get shot by a rifleman/ said the 
voice. 

' It is very distressing to be distrusted in this man« 
ner/ replied Mr. Macrae. ' Captain McClosky/ he 
said to the skipper, ' pray request all hands to oblige 
me by going below.' 

The captain issued this order, which the yacht's 
crew rather reluctantly obeyed. Their interest and 
curiosity were strongly excited by a scene without 
precedent in the experience of the oldest mariner. 

When they had disappeared Mr. Macrae again 
addressed the invisible owner of the voice. ' All my 
crew are below. Nobody is on deck but Captain 
McClosky, the Earl of Bude, and myself. We are 
entirely unarmed. You can see for yourself.' * 

The owner of the voice replied: 'You have no 
torpedoes?' 

* We have only the armament agreed upon by you 
to protect this immense mass of bullion from the 
attacks of the unscrupulous,' said Mr. Macrae. ' I 
take heaven to witness that I am honourably observ- 

^ Periscope not necessary with conning tower out of 
Man could see out of port 



ADVENTURE OF THE CANADIAN HEIRESS 407 

ing every article of our agreement, as per yours of 
August 21/ 

' All right,' answered the voice. * I dare say you 
are honest. But I may as well tell you this^ that 
while passing under your yacht we attached two slabs 
of gun-cotton to her keel. The knob connected with 
them is under my hand. We placed them where they 
are, not necessarily for publication — explosion, I 
mean — but merely as a guarantee of good faith. 
You understand ? ' 

* Perfectly,' said Mr. Macrae, ' though I regard your 
proceeding as a fresh and unmerited insult.' 

' Merely a precaution usual in business,' said the 
voice. * And now,' it went on, * for the main transac- 
tion. You will lower your gold into boats, row it 
across, and land it here on my deck. When it is all 
there, and has been inspected by me, you will send 
one boat rowed by two men only^ into which Miss 
Macrae shall be placed and sent back to you. When 
that has been done we shall part, I hope, on friendly 
terms and with mutual respect.' 

'Captain McClosky,' said Mr. Macrae, 'will you 
kindly pipe all hands on board to discharge cargo ? ' 

The captain obeyed. 

Mr. Macrae turned to Bude. * This is a moment,' 
he said, ' which tries a father's heart I Presently I must 
see Emmeline, hear her voice, clasp her to my breast.* 

Bude mutely wrung the hand of the millionaire, and 
turned away to conceal his emotion. Seldom, perhaps 
never, has a father purchased back an only and 
beloved child at such a cost as Mr. Macrae was now 
paying without a murmur. 



4o8 THE DISENTANGLERS 

The boats of the Flora Macdanald were lowered and 
manned, the winches slowly swung each huge box of 
the precious metal aboard the boats. Mr. Macrae 
entrusted the keys of the gold-chests to his officers. 

' Remember/ cried the voice from the submarine, 
'we must have the gold on board, inspected, and 
weighed, before we return Miss Macrae.' 

' Mean to the last/ whispered the millionaire to the 
earl ; but aloud he only said, ' Very well ; I regp-et, for 
your own sake, your suspicious character, but, in the 
circumstances, I have no choice.' 

To Bude he added: 'This is terrible! When he 
has secured the bullion he may submerge his sub- 
marine and go off without returning my daughter.' 

This was so manifestly true that Bude could only 
shake his head and mutter something about ' honour 
among thieves.' 

The crew got the gold on board the boats, and, 
after several journeys, had the boxes piled on the 
deck of the submarine. 

When they had placed the boxes on board they 
again retired, and one of the men of the submarine, 
who seemed to be in command, and wore a mask, 
coolly weighed the glittering metal on the deck, 
returning each package, after weighing and inspection, 
to its coffer. The process was long and tedious ; at 
length it was completed. 

Then at last the form of Miss Macrae, in an elegant 
and tasteful yachting costume, appeared on the deck 
of the submarine. The boat's crew of the Flora 
Macdanald (to whom she was endeared) lifted their 
oars and cheered. The masked pirate in command 



ADVENTURE OF THE CANADIAN HEIRESS 409 

handed her into a boat of the Flora's with stately 
courtesy, placing in her hand a bouquet of the rarest 
orchids. He then placed his hand on his heart* and 
bowed with a grace remarkable in one of his trade- 
This man was no common desperado. 

The crew pulled off, and at that moment, to the 
horror of all who were on the Flora's dedc, two 
slight jars again thrilled through her from stem to 
stern. 

Mr. Macrae and Bude gazed on each other with 
ashen faces. What had occurred? But still the 
boat's crew pulled gallantly towards the Flora^ and, in 
a few moments. Miss Macrae stepped on deck, and 
was in her father's arms. It was a scene over which 
art cannot linger. Self-restraint was thrown to the 
winds ; the father and child acted as if no eyes were 
regarding them. Miss Macrae sobbed convulsively^ 
her sire was shaken by long-pent emotion. Bude had 
averted his gaze, he looked towards the submarine, on 
the deck of which the crew were busy, beginning to 
lower the bullion into the interior. 

To Bude's extreme and speechless amazement, an- 
other periscope arose from ocean at about fifty 
yards from the further side of the submarine I Bude 
spoke no word; the father and daughter were 
absorbed in each other; the crew had no eyes but 
for them. 

Presently, unmarked by the busy seamen of the 
hostile submarine, the platform and look-out hood of 
another submarine appeared. The new boat seemed 
to be pointing directly for the middle of the hostile 
submarine and at right angles to it 



4IO THE DISENTANGLERS 

' Hands up! ' pealed a voice from the second sub- 
marine. 

It was the voice of Merton ! 

At the well-known sound Miss Macrae tore herself 
from her father's embrace and hurried below. She 
deemed that a fond illusion of the senses had beguiled 
her. 

Mr. Macrae looked wildly towards the two sub- 
marines. 

The masked captain of the hostile vessel^ leaping 
up, shook his fist at the F/ora Macdonald and yelled, 
' Damn your foolish treachery, you money-grubbing 
hunks ! You have a consort.' 

' I assure you that nobody is more surprised than 
myself,' cried Mr. Macrae. 

' One minute more and you, your ship, and your 
crew will be sent to your own place ! ' yelled the 
masked captain. 

He vanished below, doubtless to explode the mines 
under the Flora, 

Bude crossed himself; Mr. Macrae, folding his 
arms, stood calm and defiant on his deck. One 
sailor (the cook) leaped overboard in terror, the 
others hastily drew themselves up in a double line, to 
die like Britons. 

A minute passed, a minute charged with terror. 
Mr. Macrae took out his watch to mark the time. 
Another minute passed, and no explosion. 

The captain of the pirate vessel reappeared on her 
deck. He cast his hands desperately abroad; his 
curses, happily, were unheard by Miss Macrae, who 
was below. 



ADVENTURE OF THE CANADIAN HEIRESS 411 

' Hands up ! * again rang out the voice of Merton, 
adding, * if you begin to submerge your craft, if she 
stirs an inch, I send you skyward at least as a prelim- 
inary measure. My diver has detached your mines 
from the keel of the Flora Macdonald and has cut the 
wires leading to them; my bow-tube is pointing 
directly for you, if I press the switch the torpedo 
must go home, and then heaven have mercy on your 
souls ! ' 

A crow of laughter arose from the yachtsmen of the 
Flora Macdonald^ who freely launched terms of mari- 
time contempt at the crew of the pirate submarine, 
with comments on the probable future of the souls to 
which Merton had alluded. 

On his desk the masked captain stood silent. ' We 
have women on board ! ' he answered Merton at last. 

* You may lower them in a collapsible boat, if you 
have one,' answered Merton. 'But, on the faintest 
suspicion of treachery — the faintest surmise, mark 
you, I switch on my torpedo.' 

' What are your terms? ' asked the pirate captain. 

*The return of the bullion, that is all,' replied 
the voice of Merton. * I give you two minutes to 
decide.' 

Before a minute and a half had passed the masked 
captain had capitulated. ' I climb down,' he said. 

'The boats of the Flora will come for it,' said 
Merton; 'your men will help load it in the boats. 
Look sharp, and be civil, or I blow you out of the 
water ! * 

The pirates had no choice ; rapidly, if sullenly, they 
effected the transfer. 



412 THE DISENTANGLERS 

When all was done, when the coffers had been 
hoisted aboard the Flora Macdonald^ Merton, for the 
first time, hailed the yacht 

* Will you kindly send a boat round here for me, 
Mr. Macrae, if you do not object to my joining you 
on the return voyage?* 

Mr. Macrae shouted a welcome, the yacht's crew 
cheered as only Britons can. Mr. Macrae's piper 
struck up the march of the clan, ^A! the wild McCraws 
are coming! ' 

' If any of you scoundrels shoot,' cried Merton to 
his enemies, 'up you will all go. You shall stay 
here, after we depart, in front of that torpedo, just as 
long as the skipper of my vessel pleases.' 

Meanwhile the boat of the Flora approached the 
friendly submarine ; Merton stepped aboard, and soon 
was on the deck of the Flora Macdonald, 

Mr. Macrae welcomed him with all the joy of a 
father re-united to his daughter, of a capitalist restored 
to his millions. 

Bude shook Merton's hand warmly, exclaiming, 
' Well played, old boy ! ' 

Merton's eyes eagerly searched the deck for one 
beloved form. Mr. Macrae drew him aside. ' Em- 
meline is below,' he whispered ; ' you will find her in 
the saloon.' Merton looked steadfastly at the mil- 
lionaire, who smiled with unmistakable meaning. 
The lover hurried down the companion, while the 
Flora^ which had rapidly got up steam, sped 
eastward. 

Merton entered the saloon, his heart beating as hard 
as when he had sought his beloved among the 



ADVENTURE OF THE CANADIAN HEIRESS 413 

bracken beneath the cliflfs at Castle Skrae. She rose 
at his entrance ; their eyes met, Merton's dim with a 
supreme doubt, Emmeline's frank and clear. A blush 
rose divinely over the white rose of her face, her lips 
curved in the resistless i£ginetan smile, and, without 
a word spoken, the twain were in each other's arms. 
• • « • . • • 

Half an hour later Mr. Macrae, heralding his arrival 
with a sonorous hem ! entered the saloon. Smiling, 
he embraced his daughter, who hid her head on his 
ample shoulder, while with his right hand the father 
grasped that of Merton. 

' My daughter is restored to me — and my son,' said 
the millionaire softly. 

There was silence. Mr. Macrae was the first to 
recover his self-possession. ' Sit down, dear,' he said, 
gently disengaging Emmeline, ' and tell me all about 
it Who were the wretches? I can forgive them 
now.' 

Miss Macrae's eyes were bent on the carpet; she 
seemed reluctant to speak. At last, in timid and 
faltering accents, she whispered, 'It was the Van 
Huytens boy.' 

' Rudolph Van Huytens I I might have guessed it,' 
cried the millionaire. ' His motive is too plain I His 
wealth did not equal mine by several millions. The 
ransom which he demanded, and but for Tom here ' 
(he indicated Merton) ' would now possess, exactly 
reversed our relative positions. Carrying on his 
father's ambition, he would, but for Tom, have held 
the world's record for opulence. The villain ! ' 

' You do not flatter me, father,' said Miss Macrae, 



414 THE DISENTANGLERS 

* and you are unjust to Mr. Van Huytens. He had 
another, ke said a stronger, motive. Me ! ' she mur- 
mured, blushing like a red rose, and adding, ' he really 
was rather nice. The submarine was comfy; the 
yacht delightful. His sisters and his aunt were very 

kind. But ' and the beautiful girl looked up 

archly and shyly at Merton. 

' In fact if it had not been for Tom,' Mr. Macrae 
was exclaiming, when Emmeline laid her lily hand on 
his lips, and again hid her burning blushes on his 
shoulder. 

'So Rudolph had no chance?' asked Mr. Macrae 
gaily. 

* I used rather to like him, long ago — before ' 

murmured Emmeline. 

A thrill of happy pride passed through Merton. 
He also, he remembered of old, had thought that he 
loved. But now he privately registered an oath that 
he would never make any confessions as to the 
buried past (a course which the chronicler earnestly 
recommends to young readers). 

'Now tell us all about your adventures, Emmie/ 
said Mr. Macrae, sitting down and taking his 
daughter's hand in his own. 

The narrative may have been anticipated. After 
Blake was felled. Miss Macrae, screaming and strug* 
gling, had been carried to the boat. The crew had 
rapidly pulled round the cliff, the submarine had risen, 
to the captive's horrified amazement, from the deep, 
she had been taken on board, and, yet more to her 
surprise, had been welcomed by the Misses Van 
Huytens and their aunt. The brother had always 



ADVENTURE OF THE CANADIAN HEIRESS 415 

behaved with respect, till, finding that his suit was 
hopeless, he had avoided her presence as much as 
possible, and 

' Had gone for the dollars,' said Macrae. 

They had wandered from rocky desert isle to desert 
isle, in the archipelago of the Hebrides, meeting at 
night with a swift attendant yacht. Usually they had 
slept on shore under canvas; the corrugated iron 
houses had been left behind at * The Seven Hunters,' 
with the champagne, to alleviate the anxiety of Mr. 
Macrae. Ample supplies of costume and other neces- 
saries for Miss Macrae had always been at hand. 

' They really did me very well,' she said, smiling, 
' but I was miserable dhoxxt you^* and she embraced her 
father. 

* Only about me?' asked Mr. Macrae. 

* I did not know, I was not sure,' said Emmeltne, 
crying a little, and laughing rather hysterically. 

' You go and lie down, my dear,' said Mr. Macrae. 
' Your maid is in your cabin,' and thither he conducted 
the overwrought girl, Merton anxiously following her 
with his eyes. 

* We are neglecting Lord Bude,' said Mr. Macrae. 
' Come on deck, Tom, and tell us how you managed 
that delightful surprise.' 

' Oh, pardon me, sir,' said Merton, ' I am under oath, 
I am solemnly bound to Logan and others never to 
reveal the circumstances. It was necessary to keep 
you uninformed, that you might honourably make 
your arrangement to meet Mr. Van Huytens without 
being aware that you had a submarine consort. 
Logan takes any dishonour on himself, and he wished 



4i6 THE DISENTANGLERS 

to offer Mr. Van Huytens — as that is his name — 
every satisfaction, but I dissuaded him. His connec- 
tion with the affair cannot be kept too secret Though 
Logan put me forward, you really owe all to him,* 

* But without ^^1/, I should never have had his aid/ 
said Mr. Macrae: 'Where is Lord Fastcastle?' he 
asked. 

' In the friendly submarine,' said Merton. 

' Oh, I think I can guess ! ' said Mr. Macrae, smil- 
ing. ' I shall ask no more questions. Let us join 
Lord Bude.' 

If the reader is curious as to how the rescue was 
managed, it is enough to say that Logan was the 
cousin and intimate friend of Admiral Chirnside, that 
the Admiral was commanding a fleet engaged in naval 
manoeuvres around the North coast, that he had a 
flotilla of submarines, and that the point of ocean 
where the pirates met the Flora Macdona/d was not 
far west of the Orkneys. 

On deck Bude asked Merton how Logan (for he 
knew that Logan was the guiding spirit) had guessed 
the secret of the submarine. 

' Do you remember,' said Merton, ' that when you 
came back from " The Seven Hunters," you reported 
that the fishermen had a silly story of seeing a dragon 
flying above the empty sea?' 

' I remember, un dragon volant! said Bude. 

'And Logan asked you not to tell Mr. Macrae?' 

' Yes, but I don't understand.' 

' A dragon is the Scotch word for a kite — not the 
bird — a boy's kite. You did not know ; / did not 
know, but Mr. Macrae would have known, being a 



ADVENTURE OF THE CANADIAN HEIRESS 417 

Scot, and Logan wanted to keep his plan dark ; and 
the kite had let him into the secret of the submarine/ 

* I still don't see how/ 

' Why the submarine must have been flying a kite, 
with a pendent wire, to catch messages from Blake 
and the wireless machine at Castle Skrae. How else 
could a kite — "a dragon," the sailor said — have 
been flying above the empty sea?* 

' Logan is rather sharp,' said Bude. 

' But, Mr. Macrae,' asked Merton, ' how about the 
false Gianesi ? ' 

'Oh, when Gianesi came of course we settled 
his business. We had him tight, as a conspirator. 
He had been met, when expelled for misdeeds from 
Gianesi's and Giambresi's, by a beautiful young man, 
to whom he sold himself. He believed the beautiful 
young man to be the devil, but, of course, it was our 
friend Blake. He^ in turn, must have been purchased 
by Van Huytens while he was lecturing in America 
as a poet-Fenian. In fact, he really had a singular 
genius for electric engineering; he had done very 
well at some German university. But he was a fellow 
of no principle ! We are well quit of a rogue. I 
turned his unlucky victim, the false Gianesi, loose, 
with money enough for life to keep him honest if he 
chooses. His pension stops if ever a word of the 
method of rescue comes out. The same with my 
crew. They shall all be rich men, for their station, 
till the tale is whispered and reaches my ears. In 
that case — all pensions stop. I think we can trust 
the crew of the friendly submarine to keep their own 
counsel/ 

a? 



4i8 THE DISENTANGLERS 

' Certainly ! ' said Merton. ' Wealth has its uses 
after all/ he thought in his heart 

• •••••• 

Merton and Logan gave a farewell dinner in autumn 
to the Disentanglers — to such of them as were still 
unmarried. In her napkin each lady of the Society 
found a cheque on Coutts for 25,000/. signed with 
the magic name Ronald Macrae. 

The millionaire had insisted on being allowed to 
perform this act of munificence, the salvage for the 
recovered millions, he said. 

Miss Martin, after dinner, carried Mr. Macrae's 
health in a toast. In a humorous speech she an- 
nounced her own approaching nuptials, and intimated 
that she had the permission of the other ladies present 
to make the same general confession for all of them. 

' Like every novel of my own,' said Miss Martin, 
smiling, 'this enterprise of the Disentanglers has a 
HAPPY ENDING.' 



THE END 



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